The Indian Navy has begun a $1.5bn overhaul programme to modernise its aging Soviet-era fleet of aircraft in a bid to strengthen the navy’s air power over the Indian Ocean region.

According to officials, the navy will purchase 16 new MiG-29 fighter jets, six light combat aircraft, unmanned patrol planes and multirole helicopters with tenders to be floated out shortly.

The navy is also upgrading its Sea Harrier fighter jets and IL-38 maritime anti-submarine warfare planes, and acquiring five Kamov KA-31 patrol helicopters.

Indian Navy spokesman Commander PVS Satish said that the force was acquiring new fighters and helicopters to supplement a new aircraft carrier that would be arriving soon.