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‘Our troops not capable of operating Dornier aircrafts given by India’: Maldives Defence Minister

Mon, 13 May 2024   |  Reading Time: 2 minutes

Male [Maldives], May 13 (ANI): Days after the withdrawal of Indian soldiers, Maldives Defence Minister Ghassan Maumoon has acknowledged that the country’s defence forces are still not capable of operating the three aircraft donated by India, local media reported on Sunday.
This comes a day after Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer said 76 Indian military personnel in the island nation, were replaced by civilian personnel sent by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which manufactured the helicopter donated by the Indian government.
Maumoon, at a press conference, said that the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) “still does not have soldiers capable of” operating the aircraft, Maldives-based Adhadhu reported.
Responding to a question, Ghassan said there were no Maldivian soldiers with the ability to operate the aircraft, despite some soldiers who began training to fly the Dornier and two helicopters under agreements formed by previous governments.
“As it was a training that required passing various stages, our soldiers had not reached completion due to various reasons. Therefore, there aren’t any people in our force at the moment who are licensed or fully operational to fly the AHL platforms and Dornier,” Ghassan said.
However, it is pertinent to note that contrary to Ghassan’s remarks, when the current administration’s senior officials were in the opposition, they criticised the previous government and claimed that “there were capable pilots” in the MNDF, Adhadhu reported.
The training of Maldivians was the main reason for the arrival of Indian soldiers with the helicopters donated during former Presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen’s governments and the Dornier aircraft brought during former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s government.
Maldives Foreign Minister Zameer said that the agreement to replace the Indian soldiers with civilians also included provisions for training local pilots.
Previously, the Maldivian government said that documents show there are 89 Indian soldiers in the Maldives, to operate a military helicopter and Dornier aircraft, donated by India, used mainly for medical evacuations, as per the report.
Earlier on May 10, Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the Maldives and the “deputation of competent persons” to the archipelago nation.
Mohamed Muizzu-led Maldives government had formally requested India withdraw its troops from Male. The removal of Indian troops from Maldives was the main election campaign of Muizzu’s party.
The relations between New Delhi and Male have been strained since Mohamed Muizzu assumed office. (ANI)



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