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India delivers Dornier aircraft contracted in ex-President Yameen's government

Shahudha Mohamed
29 September 2020, MVT 20:24
India provides Dornier aircraft, contracted in former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration, to Maldives. PHOTO: MIHAARU FILES
Shahudha Mohamed
29 September 2020, MVT 20:24

The Indian military, on Tuesday, delivered the Dornier aircraft, contracted four years back during former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration, to Maldives.

According to the Indian High Commission, the aircraft will be operated under the command of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), although India will cover the cost of operations.

The High Commission further noted that the Dornier, requested to be stationed in Maldives by former administrations, was gifted for the purpose of conducting surveillance operations in Maldives' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The announcement of India gifting a Dornier craft to Maldives was officially made in January 2016, by then-Minister of Defence Adam Shareef.

During an official visit to India, the ex-Defence Minister had stated that the aircraft will be used for surveillance, in addition to medical evacuations and search and rescue.

The HC highlighted that a fixed-winged aircraft with the latest technology is necessary for operations in an island nation with dispersed islands and resorts.

As per the Indian HC, Maldivian military personnel are currently training to operate the aircraft, painted with MNDF's colours and decorated with the MNDF's airwing symbol.

However, Indian officers are still operating the helicopter gifted to Maldives by the Indian military, which has led to controversy surrounding the diplomatic and military relations between the two countries.

The Donier craft was handed over at a time that the opposition has raised several allegations and questions regarding the India-Maldives military alliance, including accusations of foreign military presence in Maldives.

In early September, Chief of Defence force Major General Abdulla Shamaal repeatedly denied the rumours, stating that only "technicians, technical personnel serving humanitarian purposes [and those] aiding us and fulfilling our needs are working in Maldives".

Since the Indian Ocean is an important territory, Shamaal added that the United States, Saudi Arabia, China, Pakistan and the United Kingdom also provides military aid to broaden the capacity of Maldivian armed forces.

Highlighting that "the military will not allow for anything to jeopardise Maldives' freedom", Shamaal added that MNDF will preserve the Constitution and the freedom of the island nation.

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