Indian Navy commissioned a full-fledged naval air station INS Parundu at Uchipuli, Tamil Nadu on March 26 to step up its operations along the Palk Bay, the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar. The air station has facilities to operate Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). With the commissioning of INS Parundu, Tamil Nadu is now the only State to have two commissioned air stations. The other air station INS Rajali at Arakkonam was commissioned on March 11, 1992.
Some of the interesting features of INS Parundu are:
- Parundu in Tamil means Eagle.
- The 3,000-foot abandoned airfield of Word War II is in use by the Indian Navy since 1982 to monitor ethnic disturbances in Sri Lanka.
- The Navy was operating Islander, Dornier and Chetak aircrafts from this airfield.
- The station was re-designated as Rajali II on June 01, 1997.
- Now the airfield has been extended with additional base-support facility for maintenance of bigger aircrafts, helicopters and UAVs.
- The air station can also provide support facilities to ship-borne helicopters in maintenance and training.
- The Navy’s first UAV squadron INAS 342 was commissioned at Kochi on January 06, 2006.
- The Navy operates Searcher MK II and Heron UAVs imported from Israel.
- Searcher MK II: The Searcher Mark II is produced by Israel Aircraft Industries. It can remain airborne for 16 hours, has a maximum range of 150 kilometres and operate up to an altitude of 18,500 feet.
- Heron: The Heron is manufactured by IAI’s Malat Division, has a range of 1,000 kilometres and can carry a 250-kilogram payload.
- Uchipuli (Uchippuli Railway Station) is located 15 km west of Mandapam Camp Railway Station and 20 km east of Ramanathapuram Railway Station.
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