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India bolsters maritime security with runway extensions at Diglipur and Campbell Bay and night landing capabilities at Port Blair airport.

The fast-changing geopolitical landscape of the Indian Ocean Region has recently been the focus of major global powers. The Narendra Modi government has taken this as an opportunity to drive home the critical importance of this region and launch a strategic initiative on India’s maritime security. The recent approvals for runway extensions at Diglipur in North Andaman Islands and at Campbell Bay in the Great Nicobar Islands, coupled with the commencement of night landings at Port Blair airport, are some other significant steps in this regard. These developments not only enhance India’s military readiness but also underline the nation’s commitment to maintaining a secure and stable IOR.

Strategic Significance of the Indian Ocean Region

The IOR is an extremely important corridor for world trade, with major sea lanes facilitating the flow of goods between the East and the West. It is also a region full of challenges ranging from piracy to territorial disputes to strategic gamesmanship by diverse naval powers. No wonder, therefore, that for India—a country with the longest coastline and a large volume of maritime interests—the security of the IOR assumes a very significant dimension. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located at the confluence of the Bay of Bengal with that of the Andaman Sea, turn into a strategic outpost for keeping watch over maritime activities and securing India’s interests.

Infrastructure Improvements to Gain Strategic Advantage

Approved extensions of runways at Diglipur and Campbell Bay are two vital infrastructure-enhancing exercises that would massively extend India’s operational capabilities in the region. These would provide accommodation for big-bodied aircraft to improve logistic support and rapid deployment of military resources. An extended airstrip at Diglipur will allow the IAF to project its power along the northern sectors of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands more effectively, a region quite vital in monitoring movements in the Bay of Bengal and the Eastern Indian Ocean.

The extension at Campbell Bay, housing INS Baaz, the southernmost air station of IAF, is of strategic importance. That is to say, INS Baaz overlooks the Malacca Strait, one of the most congested sea choke points in the world. The ability to launch larger aircraft from this base enhances India’s surveillance capabilities, which in turn helps in strengthening domain awareness over the seas. This assumes particular significance against the backdrop of a growing presence of extra-regional powers in the region, especially that of China, which has been trying to establish its expanding naval footprint in the IOR.

Night Landings: A Game-Changer

The commencement of night landing operations at Port Blair airport is yet another step toward extending India’s strategic reach. Night landing capabilities are a critical component of sustained air operations, allowing for flexibility in conducting missions at any time. It would enhance the envious asset of the Indian military in responding effectively and promptly to emerging threats and in conducting search and rescue operations, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief missions. This is of immense operational readiness and importance, enhanced in a disaster-prone region.

Broader Implications for Regional Security

Hence, this decision of the Modi government serves as a pointer to a larger question of regional security emanating from the strengthening of maritime security infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The message is loud and clear: India wants to take an active interest in IOR stability. Consequently, having strengthened its surveillance and response capabilities, India can indeed become a formidable contributor to regional security initiatives within formats like counter-piracy operations or frameworks of cooperative maritime security.

These developments also link with the broader strategic objectives of India under SAGAR. SAGAR—Security and Growth for All in the Region—is a doctrine particularly focused on a safe and stable maritime environment that assures economic and security interests for nations in the region. Informed by an investment agenda targeted at critical infrastructure and operational capability enhancement, India is physically working toward sustaining its commitment to SAGAR principles.


The runway extensions at Diglipur and Campbell Bay that are going to come up, besides the night landing facilities at Port Blair, are major steps toward strengthening maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region. It will strengthen India’s strategic posture, operational preparedness, and commitment toward a secure and stable IOR. The proactive steps that India

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