Even as India is looking to promote the Lakshadweep islands for tourism, India is now planning to develop a new airfield at the Minicoy Islands there that would be capable of operating military aircraft, including fighter jets, along with commercial ones.
“The plan is to have a joint airfield that would be capable of operating fighter jets, military transport planes and commercial aircraft,” government sources told ANI.
Even though the proposals have been moved to the government for developing this new airfield in the Minicoy Islands in the past too, this plan of having a joint-use defence airfield has been revived in recent times and is being actively progressed, they informed.
From the military point of view, the airfield would give India a strong capability as it can be used as a base to keep an eye on the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean region.
The Indian Coast Guard was the first force under the Defence Ministry to suggest the development of an airstrip in the Minicoy Islands. As per the present proposal, the Indian Air Force would be in the lead to run the operations from Minicoy.
The airport at Minicoy would also give the defence forces the capability to extend their area of surveillance in the Arabian Sea. The airport at Minicoy would also provide a boost to tourism in the region, as has been planned by the government. There is only one airstrip in the island territory at the moment, which is in Agatti and it can also limit the types of aircraft. The proposal for the development of a new airport and extending the present facilities has been revived recently.
The island territory has been the centre of discussion and attraction since the visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi there last week. Politicians in the Maldives‘ ruling party have been trying to criticise the Indian plans to promote Lakshadweep as a tourist attraction and have tweeted against India.