NEW DELHI: The Maldives received Dornier Maritime Surveillance aircraft by Indian Navy on Tuesday, which has been termed as a "colossal milestone" between the defence ties of the two countries.
The aircraft will help the country in Maritime & exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surveillance, humanitarian assistance, disaster and medical Relief. This will be especially helpful for the Maldivians in the northern atolls and also identifying foreign vessels, something that has increased presence in the Indian Ocean region.
Speaking exclusively to WION, Maldives Defense minister Mariya Didi said,"As a country with over 99% of its territory covered by the sea we have always worked together with our friends across the ocean to protect our domestic interests from pirates, drug smugglers and poachers. Our national defense forces are the first responders in search and rescue operations and in providing humanitarian relief as per law and by duty."
Adding, "The request for a Dornier initiated by the former administration in 2016 which we saw materialize today will go a long way in increasing our capacity to tackle these challenges. t’s a colossal milestone in defiance relations and adds a new chapter to the continued cooperation between our two countries.."
All in all, the Dornier will in the command and control of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and will be flown with MNDF flag and colours. Maldivian pilots have been trained for the aircraft since 2017.
Maldives National Defence Force release said it will be, "used in surveillance and monitoring of Maldivian waters, monitoring Maldivian maritime fishing grounds and identifying foreign vessels, in anti-drug (and other illegal substances) and human trafficking operations, as well as in search and rescue missions and to provide humanitarian assistance."
It was in 2016, that the request for a Dornier Maritime Surveillance aircraft was raised during the visit of the then President Yameen of the Maldives to India. The present Ibrahim Mohamed Solih government of Maldives was able to fast track it.
This comes even as India and Maldives have been doing joint surveillance of exclusive economic zone, in which the aircraft will be helpful. Since 2009 both, Maldivian Coast Guard and Indian Navy have conducted 54 joint aerial surveillance operations to safeguard Maldivian waters.