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Indian Navy to Acquire 80 Interceptor Boats from Sri Lanka

The continual focus on coastal security has led to yet another potential acquisition by the Indian Navy, namely, fast interceptor boats from a Sri Lankan firm. The Indian Navy has decided to acquire 80 fast interceptor boats from Solas Marine Lanka, part of the Dubai-based Solas Marine Services Group. The deal will be to the tune of $ 67 million.

According to the Indian Navy, the fast interceptor boats will have a speed of about 40 to 50 nautical miles per hour and they will be employed for coastal security purposes besides engaging with dubious vessels in the area and checking other untoward activities. The fast interceptor boats will basically fill the gaps between patrolling off the coast and conducting interception operations. The contract process for 80 Fast Interception boats from Sri Lankan firm SOLAS Marine is in its final stages and the deal is expected to be signed soon.

According to sources, the fast interceptor boats will be used by the newly-raised 1,000-man Sagar Prahari Bal, a wing of the Indian Navy which is entrusted with the responsibility of patrolling India's shallow waters. With four to five crew members and capability to patrol far off areas, the boats would also be deployed to provide protection to vital assets and installations along the coastal areas. They would assist in search-and-rescue operations besides countering terror.

Last year, the Indian Navy had placed an order worth around $ 13.34 million for 15 interceptors with a French shipyard Chantier Naval Couach. The first three boats of the lot were inducted last week for operational service at Mumbai. This delivery of the 15 fast interceptor boats is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. The 80 fast interceptor boats from Sri Lanka would be inducted in coming 36 months, sources added.

Following the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Indian government has become focused on upgrading its coastal security. The inductions and orders for interception boats have been on the rise. In fact, the Indian Coast Guard is also being dramatically ramped up as Indian Navy addresses other security responsibilities. The evergrowing naval fleet is evident as over 100 vessels, including frigates, destroyers, corvettes and other vessels are to be built in the next decade. Even the Coast Guard will be building about 90 Ships in a decade and its fleet will be tripled by 2020.

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