Maldives military pilots not capable of flying Dornier and helicopters donated by India: Def Min Ghassan

The Maldives military still does not have military pilots capable of operating three aircraft donated by India, Defence Minister Ghassan Maumoon has acknowledged, days after 76 Indian defence personnel left the island nation at the instance of Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu.

Mr. Ghassan made the remarks at a press conference held at the President’s Office here on May 11 to brief the media about the withdrawal of Indian soldiers stationed in the Maldives to operate two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft and their replacement with civilians from India.

Responding to a question from a journalist, Mr. Ghassan said there were no Maldivian soldiers with the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) who could operate the three aircraft donated by the Indian military despite some soldiers who began training to fly them under agreements formed by previous governments.

“As it was a training that required passing various stages, our soldiers had not reached completion due to various reasons.

Therefore, there aren’t any people in our force at the moment who are licensed or fully operational to fly the two helicopters and Dornier aircraft,” Mr. Ghassan was quoted as saying by the news portal.

The relations between the two countries came under severe strain after Mr. Muizzu, a pro-China leader, insisted on the withdrawal of all Indian military personnel operating the three aviation platforms in the island nation by May 10.

India has already withdrawn 76 military personnel.

However, the Maldives government has no intention of removing the doctors from India at Senahiya military hospital, a Maldivian media report said.

Contrary to Mr. Ghassan’s remarks, when the current administration’s senior officials were in the opposition during the past five years, they criticised the previous government and claimed that there were capable pilots in the MNDF, the report noted.

Training Maldivians was the main reason for the arrival of Indian soldiers with the helicopters donated during former presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Abdulla Yameen’s governments and the Dornier aircraft brought during former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s government, it said.

Despite the failure to complete the training to date, Foreign Minister Zameer said on May 11 that the agreement to replace the Indian soldiers with civilians also included provisions for training local pilots.