Since the election of the new government in the Maldives in 2018, there is an upswing in ties between Maldives and India. As a next step, both the countries are looking to improve their defence ties.
- As part of this, India will be leasing a Dornier aircraft, will bring Maldives to be a part of India’s Coastal Radar Chain and broad-base humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) exercise.
- The deal for leasing Dornier aircraft for maritime surveillance will be finalized by the year-end or early next year.
- As per diplomatic sources, Maldives is looking to transform its military and India is ready to assist the country.
- A few years ago, India had sent a Letter of Exchange to the Maldives over its request for a two-year lease of Dornier Aircraft. But, owing to the rupture in ties with the previous government there was no response. With the new government, things have changed.
- In 2013, India had donated two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) to the Maldives and they are of great service to the country flying round the clock for medical evacuation and rescue and relief operations.
- These ALHs are operated by the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Navy.
- Now, Maldives has become a part of India’s coastal radar chain.
- Three radars are to be installed in the island nation, of which, two are already operational and the third is an advanced stage.
Coastal Surveillance Network
- The radar chain began after the 26/11 terrorist attack to monitor movement on the sea.
- A total of 46 static radar sensors along the Indian coast and other countries.
- 36 radars are to be installed on the Indian mainland and 10 on island countries like Maldives, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Seychelles.
- Though the plan is to install radar on Seychelles fell apart, the rest will soon become a reality.
The Maldives is a key partner in India’s maritime security strategy in the Indian Ocean. The upping of the defence ties are timely and help India keep a watchful eye on China’s activities in the Indian Ocean.