Why the planned Minicoy Islands military installation will revolutionise the region

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Minicoy Islands now only has a small Indian Navy presence, but because of its position, it has enormous strategic potential.Proposing to establish a forward fighter airbase at Minicoy Islands, 425 kilometres off Thiruvananthapuram, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is following a national security plan to protect the sea lanes of communications (SLOCs) and maintain the Arabian Sea free of non-state actors.This plan, which involved modernising all air and navy stations in the Andamans and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, was conceived up when General Bipin Rawat was the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Minicoy Islands now only has a small Indian Navy presence, but because of its position, it has enormous strategic potential.Trillions of dollars’ worth of commercial shipping passes through the 200-kilometer-wide, nine-degree canal that separates Suheli Par Island from the Minicoy. This waterway is crucial for carriers travelling to and from the Malacca Straits, which includes Sri Lanka and the South Indian Ocean.

Even commerce travelling from the Persian Gulf and Suez Canal to Sunda, Lombok, or the Ombi-Wetar straits in Indonesia must transit through the area around the Minicoy Islands and the Indian region of the Andamans and Nicobar Islands.The ten-degree canal that leads to the Malacca Straits and divides the Nicobar Islands from the Great Andamans is complemented by this nine-degree waterway. According to Gen. Rawat’s vision, the construction of a replenishment facility for international tankers waiting for their turn to cross the Malacca Straits and the upgrading of the air base at Campbell Bay are components of a national security plan that is being gradually carried out with the assistance of friendly Quad countries.

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