New Delhi (Sputnik) – The Indian government has handed over a Dornier aircraft to the Seychelles, a day after the island nation agreed to restart the delayed Assumption Island naval base project. Seychelles Presidebt Danny Faure, who is currently in India on an official visit, described the occasion as "momentous" and said that the inclusion of HAL Do-228 aircraft would bolster the coastal surveillance of the Seychelles and provide strategic depth to policing its 1.4 million square kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The aircraft will be flown on the forthcoming 42nd Seychelles Independence Day on June 29.
"This aircraft will give a quantum enhancement in maritime reconnaissance and contribute towards keeping the vast EEZ of the Seychelles free from maritime threats," Sushma Swaraj, India's minister of external affairs, said after the handing-over ceremony in New Delhi.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the gifting of a second Dornier aircraft during his visit to the Seychelles in March 2015; two years after India had first handed over a Dornier aircraft to the island nation, which is located 1,350 to 1,800 kilometers from the East African coast, very close to oil sea lanes.
"We have provided hands-on training to the pilots and technical staff from the Seychelles. We are committed to extending full-fledged support to the teams involved with its maintenance and operations of the aircraft," T Suvarna Raju, CMD of HAL, added.
Proud testimony of our long-standing friendship! On behalf of the people of India, EAM @SushmaSwaraj handed over HAL made Dornier Aircraft Do-228 to President of #Seychelles Danny Faure. The aircraft will enhance surveillance capability of Seychelles to tackle maritime threats. pic.twitter.com/ttluwjGw8j— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) June 26, 2018
The Do-228 aircraft, manufactured by HAL, is equipped with 360-degree surveillance radar, a forward-looking infrared system, satellite communication, a traffic collision and avoidance system, an enhanced ground proximity warning system and a host of other custom sensors.
Ahead of Faure's first state visit to New Delhi, it was widely speculated that Narendra Modi's ambition to counter China's growing outreach in the Indian Ocean region has encountered issues since the Seychelles decided to delay a naval base project that was renegotiated earlier this year. This announcement was made by President Faure on June 4 ahead of his visit to New Delhi. The announcement had armed the Indian opposition parties that were already quibbling with the Modi government for its soured relations with another island nation, the Maldives.