New Delhi, Aug 13 : Military aircraft can now use the Cochin International Airport for take-off and landing in accordance with an MoU that was signed with the Indian Navy, defence officials said on Tuesday.

The MoU was signed between the Navy and Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL), which operates the civilian airport, on August 8. The civilian airport is located at Nedumbassery, around 25 km from Kochi.

According to the Indian Navy officials, the runway at INS Garuda, a Naval air station located in Kochi, is not large enough for take-off and landing of long-range maritime reconnaissance anti-submarine warfare aircraft like the Boeing P8I.

"The runway at the Navy air base could only allow for the take-off and landing of smaller aircraft like C-130, C-70, AN-32 and the Dornier. Aircraft like the P8I can now take off and land from the Cochin International Airport where they will be provided fuelling facility, aircraft ladders and starting supply," a senior Navy official told IANS.

The MoU was signed between Captain Satish Kumar S., the officer-in-charge of Naval Air Enclave (NAE) in Kochi, and A.C.K. Nair, Director of CIAL.

The NAE is a Naval aviation facility comprising an independent dispersal, aircraft hangar, administrative building and taxi track. It is located on the northwest of Kochi airport.

"The optimal exploitation of NAE would significantly enhance maritime reconnaissance capability of the Southern Naval Command. The MoU lays down standard operating procedures for Kochi airport and the Indian Navy in order to ensure safe, secure and uninterrupted military air operations," said the official.

The Boeing P8I aircraft had been extensively used to coordinate search and rescue operations off the coast of Kerala and the Lakshadweep Islands following Cyclone Ockhi that had hit the Arabian Sea in December 2017.

Following the heavy rains that lashed Kerala last week, all flights had been suspended from the Kochi airport which was shut down due to waterlogging. The Indian Navy had opened up its airport in INS Garuda for civilian flight operations following the shutdown.

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