Thursday, July 05, 2018

India’s choppers to fly back from Maldives in 10 days as ties grow cold

New Delhi: India is set to order the return of its two-helicopter detachment stationed at strategic islands in the Maldives since 2013. The government of the Indian Ocean archipelago, headed by President Abdulla Yameen, refused India’s offers to extend the period of deployment earlier this year, signalling a rollback of the country’s ‘India-first’ policy.

The two helicopters — stationed at the Gan airfield in Addu, the Maldives’ southern-most island, and at Laamu, on the northern tip — are operated by the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). The detachment totals 25 crew members, including 12 pilots, six each from the Navy and the ICG.
“We expect the crew and the helicopters to be back in about 10 days,” a source in the government told The Print. “However, our EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) patrols will continue,” said an official.
The forced recall of the helicopter detachment follows a rash of agreements that the Maldives entered into with China in December last year. Among the agreements are port projects that could involve the islands where the Indian helicopters are based.
04/07/18 Sujan Dutta/The Print