The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) will again be using the two helicopters gifted by India and preparations in this regard are ongoing, Brigadier General Ali Zuhair has said.
Brigadier General Zuhair said this during a press conference at the Coast Guard building on Tuesday, though he did not say when the use of the helicopters will commence again.
Zuhair spoke about the helicopters in response to a question about Indian officers being stationed in the Maldives, as the helicopters are operated and maintained by them.
Panellists at the conference were asked if the presence of Indian officers undermines or in any manner impedes Maldivian security, to which Zuhair said that ‘they are not here to spy’.
Zuhair further said that officers of the MNDF are not just ‘sitting by’ idle and that all their movements on duty are logged with local authorities and the helicopters are operated under command of the MNDF.
The first of the two helicopters were gifted in 2010, while the second was gifted in April, 2017; 50 military personnel are stationed for their maintenance and operation.
After the letters of exchange for the helicopters expired, former President Abdulla Yameen’s administration had asked for them to be removed. However, the helicopters and the personnel remained in the Maldives.
The helicopters are primarily used for search and rescue operations. President Ibahim Mohamed Solih said at a recent press conference that they are entirely operated and funded by ‘India, but have saved over 200 Maldivian lives’.
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