An Indian Dornier surveillance aircraft, on loan from the Indian government to the Seychelles Peoples Defence Force (SPDF) while the Dornier gifted to Seychelles is under construction, arrived this afternoon to be deployed for the conduct of maritime surveillance within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
A fully-equipped, 33-person Indian crew also arrived in advance of the aircraft and will remain for the duration of the loan, running the aircraft while undertaking the training of local counterparts for the eventual arrival of the permanent Dornier.
The arrival follows on from a pledge made by the Indian Minister for Defense, Mr. A. K. Antony, during his call on President Michel in July 2010 and the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two governments earlier this year. The loan of the Indian manned Dornier is in recognition of urgency of Seychelles’ need.
A welcoming party consisting of high-level military and government representatives lead by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, the Minister for Home Affairs, Mr. Joel Morgan, and the resident Indian High Commissioner, Mr. Asit Kumar Nag, met the aircraft on its landing at Seychelles International Airport.
“It is an aircraft that will be operated by the SPDF in collaboration with the Indian forces, and we are very proud to have our two forces standing and fighting side by side in the protection and security of the Indian Ocean,” said Minister Adam, “we know that piracy is the biggest threat to the development of the region, and we all know that the effectiveness anti-piracy efforts depend on good air cover and surveillance. This Dornier aircraft will play a large role in ensuring we have the best surveillance possible … This is indeed a momentous and a great step forward in our fight against piracy.”
The Minister also expressed, on behalf of the people and government of Seychelles, his sincere thanks to the government of Indian, commending the level of support they have been able to offer.
During a press conference that followed, Minister Morgan re-iterated his thanks and spoke of the invaluable contribution such an asset will make to Seychelles’ efforts in the region.
“The arrival of this plane is a great accomplishment for Seychelles and is the direct result of President Michel’s efforts through his policy of active economic diplomacy to be able to bring something positive and concrete that will greatly benefit Seychelles,” said Minister Morgan.
While the SPDF awaits the gifted Dornier, which is currently under construction and rigorous testing over a period of 15 to 18 months, Minister Morgan said that this generous loan is a testament to the goodwill and commitment of the Indian government and shows that they recognized the urgency of Seychelles’ need for greater assistance.
“The collaboration between Indian and Seychelles should serve as an example for other countries to assist us, because we are undertaking a formidable task, but our efforts alone is not enough, and we need greater resources,” added the Minister, “While they recognize our efforts, it is time for other countries to share more of this responsibility.”
In addition to the Dornier, the Indian Defense Minister, Mr. A. K. Antony, had also announced a donation of 2 extra surveillance assets to Seychelles, in the shape of 2 Chetak helicopters.
While speaking to the press, High Commissioner Nag also explained that the Indian government would be providing all the maintenance materials and expertise needed and would also be covering the full costs of the Indian detachment being based with the plane, while the Seychelles government will bear the operational costs.