Chief of Defense Force, Major General Abdulla Shamaal declared Maldivian soldiers will start flying the Indian-operated pair of helicopters, two years ago, however, local officers are still sidelined from receiving the opportunity to fly the aircrafts.
Shamaal stated in 2020 that Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) pilots were close to completing helicopter rating to qualify for flying the aircraft.
Although, on average, a pilot takes 45 days to complete helicopter rating, Shimals’s announcement has aged two years and yet the helicopters are still flown by Indian pilots. Moreover, despite claims of training their officers, local servicemen remain untrained.
While these Indian helicopters are based in two different locations within the country, hundreds of Indian military officers are active within the Maldivian borders, feigning helicopter operation.
According to the leaked agreements pertaining to the helicopter deal, only the Indian military is to operate the aircrafts and their Chief Commander is the most senior Indian Ambassador residing in the Maldives at any given time. MNDF harbors no power over these aircraft and the government possesses no authority.
Former President, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Qayyoom’s administration refused to renew the agreements with the Indian government after their contract period was up and advised the Indian military to leave the country with their helicopters.
However, the Indian military personnel extended their stay with numerous excuses until the government was overthrown. One of the first acts of business by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih upon coming into office had been the renewal of the helicopter agreement.