The Indian Navy has transferred a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Dornier 228 turboprop aircraft to the Mauritius Police Force, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 14 September.
The passenger variant aircraft (MSN 4059) was handed over to the Maritime Air Squadron of the National Coast Guard, a branch of the Mauritius Police Force as a loan unit while it awaits the delivery of another new Dornier 228 signed under a contract inked with HAL. It will be the fourth aircraft of the type in their fleet.
In an interview published by the Government Information Service (GIS) of Mauritius’ social media page, India’s High Commissioner to Port Louis, Nandini Singla, disclosed that the deal was signed between the two parties earlier in February this year in a meeting between Indian External Affairs minister S Jaishankar and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravin Jugnauth.
“As you may know, Mauritius is procuring a new passenger variant Dornier aircraft under a USD100 million dollar line of credit extended by India. And this aircraft today has been provided by India on a gratis basis till such time the new aircraft lands here in Mauritius,” said Singla.
As part of the agreement, Mauritius will procure military equipment, including aircraft and patrol boats, from Indian defence equipment manufacturers. In addition, the Indian government will loan a single Dhruv helicopter to boost the Coast Guard’s maritime surveillance capabilities.
“We do not want Mauritius to wait till the new commercially procured aircraft arrives and I’m very happy that we were able to do this within six months of signing the letter of exchange in February 2021,” Singla added.
Mauritius is faced with an “increased load of air operations” spanning exclusive economic zone (EEZ) surveillance, maritime piracy and illegal fishing patrols, and search-and-rescue duties, she added while emphasising on the friendly ties and naval cooperation existing between Mauritius and India.
By Victor Shalton Odhiambo