By Yu Runze, Sina English
India on July 31 opened a new naval air station Baaz at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands southernmost fringe of Campbell Bay, giving it the ability to keep an eye on the maritime traffic and security scenario in the Strait of Malacca as well as to “counter” China’s “strategic activities in Indian Ocean”.
According to IANS report on July 31, Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma declared the naval air station to go into operation.
“These islands, 600 nautical miles away from the continent, offer Indian geo-strategic advantages” said the chief Admiral.
“Not only do they provide the nation with a commanding presence in the Bay of Bengal, the islands also serve as our window into East and South East Asia," he said, adding that "they also sit astride some of the busiest shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean, most carrying strategic cargo for East Asian economies”.
The naval air station Baaz is currently equipped to operate light to heavy aircraft capable of short field operations from the runway of about 3,500 feet. The runway will be progressively lengthened to enable unrestricted operation of all categories of aircraft including heavy aircraft.
According to India Times report, Baaz could help India “to counter China’s activities in Indian Ocean”. The base overlooks the Strait of Malacca, while also dominating the Six Degree Channel, which shows India’s consistency in “countering China’s strategic activities in Indian Ocean.”
The Strait of Malacca connects the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the economies of China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are largely dependent on it. Over 25 percent of global trade passes through the Strait of Malacca.