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India approves acquisition of hovercraft for coastguard, army

  • India has approved plans to acquire hovercraft for the country’s coastguard, army
  • Vehicles will improve the respective service’s operational capabilities in shallow waters and riverine environments

New Delhi has approved acquisition requests for ‘air cushion vehicles’ (ACVs) for the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Army.

The approval has been granted by the defence acquisition council (DAC), the country’s Ministry of Defence announced on 7 June. The DAC is chaired by India’s Minister of Defence, Nirmala Sitharaman.

“These vessels would offer great advantage over conventional boats [and] crafts with their ability to travel at very high speeds over shallow water, sand banks, mud flats, and swamps which are non-navigable by [the smaller vessels] due to draught restrictions [and] uncharted depths,” said the defence ministry in a statement.

“These craft offer capability enhancement for the services, and would prove useful for amphibious [and] riverine operations, especially where there is a requirement to move men and materiel from one island to another island, across riverine terrain, creeks et cetera,” it added.

The ministry has, however, not given details on how many vehicles will be acquired for each of the services under the approval, adding only that the vehicles should be acquired from an Indian shipyard.

The Indian Coast Guard currently operates a fleet of 18 Griffon 8000TD hovercraft, which have been built under a technical collaboration between India’s Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) and the United Kingdom’s Griffon Hoverwork. These vehicles were commissioned between 2000 and 2014.

The 21.3 m hovercraft displaces 25 tonnes at full load, and can accommodate a crew of 16 including two officers. The vehicle can attain a top speed of 50 kt on the water, a standard range of 400 n miles at 45 kt, and can operate up to Sea State 4.

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