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We’ll upgrade border infra: Antony
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Goa, May 11
Defence Minister AK Antony today said India has the right to build and develop its border infrastructure and would continue to shore up its capabilities.

“As China has the right to improve, increase and strengthen infrastructure and other facilities on its land, India has the right to develop its own infrastructure. Over the years, the Indian Air force and the Army have increased their capabilities. That process will continue,” Antony said.

The Defence Minister was addressing mediapersons after commissioning the MiG 29-K, the first ship-deck based super-sonic jet fighters for the Navy. Antony’s statement comes nearly a week after the face-off with China ended in northern Ladakh on May 5. The two sides had agreed to pull back their troops to their earlier positions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Voicing concern over Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea, Antony said: “There should be freedom of navigation as per the UN convention. India has commercial interests and though it is not a party to the dispute, it believes that disputes should be settled as per the UN laws”.

China has recently upped the ante and has been vigorously patrolling the seas. Vietnam, Brunei, The Philippines and Malaysia are locked in a dispute over sea boundaries in the oil and gas-rich South China Sea.

India’s commercial interests lie in two oil-exploration blocks (numbered 127 and 128) in Phu Khanh Basin. China disputes that these are not within the 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Vietnam. India has cited the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas to work on these blocks.

Antony made a special reference to the Sea Lanes of Communication which are vital for trade. “The protection of SLOCs is becoming more and more important. Economic development, trade and commerce everything depends on security of SLOCs,” he said.

Antony said the Navy's indigenously-built aircraft carrier would be launched on August 12 this year, while INS Vikramaditya (purchased from Russia) will arrive before the end of 2013.

The first lot of 18 new-age MiG29-K fighter aircraft was commissioned into the Navy today. This was the first-induction of fighters in the Navy since the Sea Harriers were commissioned in the early 1980s. In all, 45 MiG 29-K’s are being purchased from Russia at a cost of $2.4 billion (approx Rs 13,200 crore).

The aircraft would be attached to aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which would be commissioned later this year. Until then, the planes will fly off from Goa. “India has to maintain an edge over its adversaries in defence preparedness through the acquisition of new technology and better training of the personnel due to rapidly changing security scenario in the region,” said Antony.

MiG 29-K commissioned into Navy

New-age fighter aircraft MiG29-K was commissioned into the Navy in the presence of Defence Minister AK Antony at INS Hansa

Antony said the Navy's indigenously-built aircraft carrier would be launched on August 12 this year

INS Vikramaditya (purchased from Russia) will arrive before the end of 2013, said the Defence Minister





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