Maldives Military Pilots Unprepared to Operate Indian-Donated Dornier Aircraft

Image Source: FIrstpost


Author: Hriday Verma

Published: May 13, 2024

The Maldives, a strategically located island nation in the Indian Ocean, has recently faced a significant challenge: its military pilots lack the necessary training to operate three aircraft donated by India. This revelation comes just days after Indian defence personnel, who were operating these aircraft, departed from the Maldives.

The Admission by Defence Minister Ghassan Maumoon

In a media briefing held in Male, Maldives Defence Minister Ghassan Maumoon candidly acknowledged the situation. He stated, “There aren’t any people licensed to fly the aircraft.” The Maldivian soldiers, who had begun training to operate the Dornier aircraft under previous administrations, were unable to complete the program due to unspecified reasons.

Indian Troops Departure

The departure of Indian troops from the Maldives was a result of a demand made by President Mohamed Muizzu. These Indian military personnel had been stationed in the Maldives to operate two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft. They adhered to the deadline set in February, returning to India by May 10, 2024.

Impact on India-Maldives Relations

This development poses challenges to India’s efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the region. President Muizzu’s pro-China stance has led to several agreements with China, sidelining India in various projects. Notably, the Maldives signed a military assistance pact with China in March and allowed a Chinese research vessel to dock at its port—an action that directly affects India’s interests.

Muizzu’s “India Out” Campaign

While the previous administration had strengthened ties between India and the Maldives, President Muizzu campaigned on an “India Out” platform, emphasizing Maldivian sovereignty. The replacement of Indian military personnel with civilians further underscores this shift in geopolitical dynamics.

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The lack of qualified pilots to operate the Indian-donated Dornier aircraft highlights the need for urgent training and capacity-building within the Maldives military. As the geopolitical landscape evolves, both India and the Maldives must navigate their strategic interests while ensuring regional stability.

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