The government of the Maldives has returned the second naval helicopter that was gifted by neighbouring India to the archipelago.
India had presented two helicopters to the Maldives in 2010 and 2011. The first one was based at the international airport at Addu Atoll's Gan, while the second was operated from the hangar developed by the Indian government in Laamu Atoll’s Kahdhoo.
The Maldives sent back the helicopter gifted in 2011 earlier this year, while the second was returned at the beginning of this month, according to local newspaper Mihaaru
Ministry of Defence and National Security explained that the government decided to return the helicopters as they could not be used to their full potential in the Maldives, and because India had agreed to provide a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft instead. The official added that India had gifted the helicopters for a certain period of time which has now expired.
"The helicopters were given [under an agreement] to train Maldivians to operate them, within a certain period. But that hasn't been accomplished. Moreover, a helicopter is not the most ideal vessel for the Maldivian environment."
The official stated that airplanes were the most suitable for the Maldives. He added that the surveillance aircraft to be provided by India was being delayed due to lacking a parking hangar for the craft.
According to the defence ministry, a local pilot has already been prepared and appointed for its operations. The new aircraft is to be used to airlift patients to capital Male, and for rescue missions and surveillance, same as the choppers.
Meanwhile, the government has also decided to purchase two PAC Super Mushshak aircrafts from Pakistan for military use. They are to be acquired with a USD 10 million loan from the country.