The Hawks of Dega and Surya Ki­rans

Vayu’s An­gad Singh spent some time with the In­dian Navy at INS Dega in Visaka­ha­p­at­nam and re­ports on the Navy’s ad­vanced jet train­ing squadron, INAS 551 Phan­toms.

Vayu Aerospace and Defence - - Front Page -

Over the last few years, the In­dian Navy has been fever­ishly work­ing to aug­ment its in­fra­struc­ture around the coun­try, and nowhere is this drive more ap­par­ent than at INS Dega in Visakha­p­at­nam. In ad­di­tion to a host of im­prove­ments to al­ready-ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties at the base, as well as con­struc­tion of all­new in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing ad­di­tional hangars and aprons, the Navy is also aim­ing to ac­quire more land to ex­pand this air sta­tion to make it linch­pin of the East­ern Naval Com­mand’s avi­a­tion ca­pa­bil­ity much in the same way as INS Hansa in Goa serves the Western Naval Com­mand. In­deed, like its WNC coun­ter­part, INS Dega is even­tu­ally in­tended to serve as shore base for an op­er­a­tional squadron of Rus­sian- ori­gin MiG- 29K/ KUB car­rier fight­ers. Once INS Vikrant, the first in­dige­nous air­craft car­rier (IAC-1) en­ters ser­vice, the en­tirety of its air wing will also be based at Dega. The sta­tion’s present com­mand­ing of­fi­cer, Cap­tain De­banil Bhat­tacharya, noted that the de­vel­op­ment work un­der­way would also al­low an in­crease in both mil­i­tary as well as civil air­craft op­er­at­ing on In­dia’s east­ern se­aboard, an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion given that the air sta­tion also dou­bles up as the only air link to the ever im­por­tant city of Vizag.

INS Dega got off to a rather mod­est start, with the for­ma­tion of a he­li­copter flight un­der INS Cir­cars ad­ja­cent to Visakha­p­at­nam air­field in De­cem­ber 1972. Over a decade later, on 12 March 1986, the air­port at Visakha­p­at­nam was trans­ferred from the DGCA/AAI to the Navy and com­menced op­er­a­tions as ‘Naval Air Sta­tion, Visakha­p­at­nam,’ with one Chetak flight and a few he­li­copters dis­em­barked from var­i­ous ships. Con­struc­tion of ad­di­tional hangars, aprons, main­te­nance fa­cil­i­ties and an op­er­a­tions com­plex soon fol­lowed and on 21 Oc­to­ber 1991, Ad­mi­ral Laxmi­narayan Ram­das for­mally com­mis­sioned the base as INS Dega.

The base is home to some 40-odd air­craft at any given time and hosts a num­ber of Naval Air Squadrons : INAS 311 ‘Kites,’ a pa­trol and EW squadron op­er­at­ing Dornier 228 air­craft, INAS 321 ‘An­gels,’ with HAL Chetak he­li­copters in the search and res­cue (SAR) role, INAS 333 ‘Ea­gles,’ with an­ti­sub­ma­rine warfare (ASW) Kamov Ka-28

An IN Hawk gets air­borne at INS Dega for a train­ing sor­tie

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