India gifts patrol aircraft to Seychelles

India gifts patrol aircraft to Seychelles

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Seychelles President Danny Faure wave flags during the handing over ceremony of Dornier aircraft to Seychelles, at Palam Technical Area, in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

India on Tuesday handed over a second Dornier maritime patrol aircraft to Seychelles, fulfilling a commitment that the government had made two years ago.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her junior Gen V K Singh (rtd) handed over the aircraft's airworthiness certificate and a symbolic key to the visiting Seychelles President Danny Faure at a function here.

"To enhance the surveillance capability of Seychelles to tackle maritime threats, our prime minister had announced the gifting of a second Dornier aircraft during his landmark visit to Seychelles in March 2015. This is fulfillment of the commitment. It is a gift from India ahead of the National Day of Seychelles on June 29," Sushma said.

India gifted the first Dornier aircraft to the island republic in January 2013.

Two years later when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Seychelles, he announced gifting a second Do-228 aircraft, which is a popular platform for maritime surveillance jobs.

"This aircraft will give a quantum enhancement in maritime reconnaissance and contribute towards keeping the vast EEZ of Seychelles free from maritime threats," she said.

The aircraft is equipped with 360 degrees surveillance radar, forward-looking infra-red system, satellite communication links, traffic collision and avoidance system and enhanced ground proximity warning system.

The cabin can accommodate 19 passengers in commuter configuration while the cockpit is designed for two crew members.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited that manufactured the aircraft also provided hands-on training to the pilots and technical staff of Seychelles.

"We are committed to extend full-fledged support to the teams involved with the maintenance and operations of the aircraft," said T Suvarna Raju, chairman and managing director of HAL.

Of late, the bilateral relations entered a turbulent phase due to Seychelles's reported reluctance in developing its Assumption Island as an Indian naval base.

But at a summit-level meeting between Modi and Faure on Monday, the two nations agreed to work on the naval base project signalling a forward movement on the stalled project.

“We agree to work together on the Assumption Island project keeping in mind each other's interest in this regard," Modi stated.

India and Seychelles also signed an agreement on sharing white shipping information.