|Airport type||Naval Air Station|
|Location||Arakkonam, Vellore, Tamil Nadu|
|Elevation AMSL||265 ft / 81 m|
INS Rajali, also informally known as Arakkonam Naval Air Station, (IATA: N/A, ICAO: VOAR) is an Indian naval air station located near Arakkonam, Vellore, Tamil Nadu in southern India. It operates under the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy, and has the longest military runway in Asia.
The airfield at Arakkonam was constructed in early 1942, for use by Allies of World War II. The first recorded air operations from the field took place when the No. 2 Squadron of the Royal Indian Air Force, flying Westland Lysander aircraft flew support missions for the British Indian Army between May and Sep 1942.
The airfield was abandoned after the war and lay unused until the 1980s, when it was transferred to the Indian Navy who rehabilitated and commissioned the airfield as INS Rajali.INS Rajali was commissioned on 11 March 1992. The commissioning commanding officer was Captain RS Vasan, who subsequently retired in the rank of commodore while on deputation to the Coast Guard as the Regional Commander of Coast Guard Region East. Rajali, named after a bird, was commissioned by then President Sri Venkataraman. The upgraded airbase became home to an anti-submarine warfare squadron, INAS 312, which moved here from INS Hansa in Goa. On 16 April 1988, the Tupolev Tu-142MK-E aircraft were commissioned into the squadron by the then Defence Minister, Shri K. C. Pant, at INS Hansa. The Albatross as they are called celebrated the silver jubilee of induction at Rajali. The replacement aircraft for the TU 142 M are P8i Poseidon and eight of them have started operating from Rajali. The Helicopter Training School which operated from INS Garuda was shifted to Rajali from July 1991 in the year of commissioning itself and has been training rotary-wing pilots of the Navy and the Coast Guard ever since. This self-contained base celebrated its silver jubilee on 11 March 2017. Boeing will establish a training facility spanning 60,000 sq ft for the P-8I Neptune by 2021.
During the 2015 South India Floods when Chennai International Airport was closed due to floodwaters, INS Rajali was used as a makeshift airport for relief operations as well as limited commercial flights. Some passengers had been brought from flooded areas by helicopter. Commuter services on the Chennai Suburban Railway were operated from Arakkonam Junction for the benefit of passengers coming by air through Rajali.
As of 2010, INS Rajali is home to the navy's INAS 312 squadron which operates eight Tu-142MK-E aircraft. The aircraft are equipped for maritime patrol, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. Indian Navy became the first international customer for the new Boeing P-8I Neptune aircraft with the conclusion of the nearly US $2.1 billion contract on 01 Jan 2009 for a total of eight aircraft. The first aircraft arrived in India on the 15 May 2013 and as of November 2015; all eight a/c have been inducted into the Indian Navy and are fully integrated into its operations.
INS Rajali is also home to the navy's Helicopter Training School.
- "Eastern Naval Command Authorities & Units". Indian Navy. Archived from the original on 22 August 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
- Airport information for VOAR at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.
- "INAS 312 – The Albatross". Indian Navy. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- "Indian Navy looking at more P-8I 'submarine killers': Admiral Lanba". The Economic Times. 2018. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
- "Naval Air Stations". Indian Navy. Archived from the original on 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2011-08-15.
- "Floodwaters recede as Chennai rain eases". BBC. 4 December 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Josephine, Serena (5 December 2015). "500 passengers flown out of INS Rajali". The Hindu. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- "Beach-Arakkonam train service on". The Hindu. 6 December 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.