In a bid to bolster coastal security, the Mumbai Police are now eying an amphibious aircraft that will give it aerial surveillance capabilities and can even be used for evacuation purposes or to airdrop personnel in crisis situation. A proposal for acquiring the aircraft is being drafted, top police officers said.
“We are exploring the option of acquiring an amphibious aircraft to fill the gap of aerial surveillance, for which the Mumbai Police is currently lacking in capabilities. The responsibility for coastal security is being shared by the Navy, Coast Guard and the Mumbai Police. The aircraft will be used primarily for the police’s role in surveillance of 114 kms of coastline, and it will have the capability to take aerial shots,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Protection and Security) Madhukar Pandey said.
“The aircraft will have a capacity of four passengers, and if required, it can be used to transport and drop people in a part of the city quickly,” Pandey added.
Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh, who resigned from the top post on January 30 to enter politics, was keen to push the proposal despite one pending with the state government for a helicopter for the city police. “We are going to acquire a seaplane that will be able to take off and land from short distances in both land and water, mainly for use in coastal security. A proposal for the same will be sent to the home department soon,” Singh had told Newsline.
Senior Maharashtra police officers, however, were critical of the move to acquire an aircraft. “This will pose additional problems of maintenance and getting trained personnel to man the aircraft. Besides, if the need arises, the police can always request for a helicopter,” said an officer.
According to sources, the cost of the amphibious aircraft being considered is Rs 2.5-3 crore. Officers drafting the proposal have narrowed down on a Russian-make aircraft, they said. “The process is at a very nascent stage. There is already a proposal for a chopper pending with the government. We are looking at an amphibious aircraft like the Pelican 4 model,” said Pandey.
The four-seater Pelican 4, developed by Russia’s International Institute of Advanced Aerospace Technologies, is a twin-engine multi-utility amphibious seaplane made of advanced composite material. It can be operated from the water surface, snow or unprepared land, poor runways, and asphalt or concrete strips and does not require specific aviation or marine infrastructure. Its design allows quick dismantling of the wings and transportation on a ship or trailer car. It has two Austrian made ROTAX-914 engines, which use automobile fue instead of costly aviation turbine fuel.