Indian High Commissioner to Maldives Sunjay Sudhir said India have been training pilots for helicopters and the Dornier aircrafts gifted to Maldives. Three pilots have returned to Maldives after completing their training, according to the high commissioner.
In an exclusive interview given to Mihaaru News, Indian High Commissioner said the pilots had returned to Maldives after completing their training nearly a month ago.
The aircrafts provided by India are equipped to conduct defensive surveillance. Licensed pilots require further training in order to operate these planes.
He said India was training other technical staff needed for these aircrafts' operations as well.
"When we are providing so many training slots to MNDF to make it strong, these slots also include aviation slots. I can share with you for this year, we are providing 42 aviation slots, just aviation slots, for Maldivian student training," he said.
"Three Maldivian pilots have trained and came back the last one month."
Opposition have been critiquing India and the Maldivian government for the continued presence of Indian military officials to operate these aircrafts in Maldives. Maldivian government has previously said that the Indian military have been staying due to a lack of trained Maldivian staff that can operate them. This had further generated criticism towards the government as well.
As Maldives is an archipelago, it is easy to illegally cross the Maldivian borders. This is an increased fear due to the strategic location of Maldives as well.
Ambassador Sunjay Sudhir said the advance light helicopters and Dornier aircrafts were provided upon the request of Maldivian government in order to facilitate the capabilities of Maldivian army.
He further stated the aircrafts are under the Maldivian army and reiterated that Maldivian personnel were being trained upon the request of Maldives.