Newly-disclosed information about the Dornier agreement made between the Maldivian and Indian governments indicate that the Dornier will be jointly operated by India and the Maldives. Even if Maldivian pilots were trained and allowed to fly the craft, Indian soldiers would still be part of the aircraft’s operation.
This information was disclosed through the presentation made by the Ministry of Defence last night at a session of the Parliament Committee on National Security Services.
While information about the Dornier agreement and the hydrographic survey agreement was provided in the presentation given during the open session, copies of both agreements had been provided to the committee-members during the closed session.
MP Adam Shareef (Maduvvaree) asked if the Indian military would still be involved in training Maldivian pilots. Refusing to give a straight answer, Chief of Defence Force Maj Gen Abdullah Shamal said that the agreement reflects the prior government’s wish to jointly operate the aircraft. He added that there were challenges to maintaining pilots on the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) due to budgetary constraints.
Prior to the presentation, Defence Minister Mariya Didi had stated that the current hydrography survey and Dornier agreements were simply implementations of a 2016 action plan that had been signed between the Indian government and the Yameen administration.
According to the 2-year Dornier aircraft agreement, the craft must be flown jointly by Indian and Maldivian personnel. Although the Indian government will bear most of the costs of flying the aircraft, it can only be flown with the permission of the MNDF.
The Principal Director of the MNDF’s Plans, Policies, and Resource Management section, Lt. Col. Hassan Amir said that the Dornier aircraft may only be flown with the MNDF’s permission; with authorization of the Chief of Defence Force, and a Tasking Order from the Coast Guard Command.
It was disclosed at the session that 25 Indian personnel are stationed in the Maldives with regards to operating the Dornier; 3 pilots, 1 observer, and 21 technicians. Similarly, every stationed Indian helicopter will also have an attachment of 25 Indian personnel. This makes a total of 75 Indian personnel stationed in the Maldives.