First Batch Of Indian Civilians Reaches Maldives To Operate Helicopters, Dornier; India Also Sends New Chopper

(MENAFN- AsiaNet News) The first batch of Indian civilians have reached Male to operate the helicopters and Dornier aircraft gifted by the Indian government to the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), the defence ministry of the Maldives said on Monday.
These civilians will replace 77 Indian military personnel, who are in the atoll nation to operate, manage and maintain the helicopters.

In the February 2 meeting between India and the Maldives, the two sides agreed that the Indian government will replace the military personnel in one of the three aviation platforms by March 10, and will complete replacing military personnel in the other two platforms by May 10.”
It should be noted that India had gifted two Advanced Light Helicopters and a Dornier aircraft to carry out search and rescue missions and airlift the patients.

While not disclosing the number of Indian civilians who arrived in Male, the Maldives defence ministry said in a statement: "The civilian crew who will operate the helicopter in place of the Indian troops currently stationed in Seenu Gan (Addu city) has arrived in Maldives on Monday evening."

After assuming the charge of the Maldives Presidentship, Mohamed Muizzu asked the Indian government to withdraw Indian troops from Male and later also ordered not to utilize Indian helicopters.

After a series of talks at the diplomatic level, the two sides agreed to continue the operations of the platforms.

Old helicopter is to be replaced

The statement also said that an Indian ship will be arriving on Wednesday with a new helicopter. The new helicopter will replace the old one at Seenu Gan (Addu city).

Before being returned to India for repairs, the defence ministry said that the test flights of the old helicopter will be conducted starting Tuesday.

"Test flights of the helicopter stationed in Seenu Gan will be carried out starting February 27, 2024, before returning it to India for repairs. The ship carrying the new helicopter will arrive directly in Addu on February 28."

The relations between the two countries soured ever since Muizzu was elected as the President of the tiny island nation. In his election campaign, Muizzu had focused on the 'India Out' movement.
'The India Out' campaign was started in 2020 by former president Abdulla Yameen to isolate the ruling Solih administration for his proximity with New Delhi.


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