New Delhi: India has given the Republic of Seychelles, an island country in the Indian Ocean, a Dornier maritime reconnaissance aircraft for surveillance and anti-piracy missions. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR), which hosts this island nation, is plagued by piracy threats.
Seychelles is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some 1,500 kilometres east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar. It has an estimated population of 84,000, which is the smallest population of any African state.
The fixed-wing Dornier aircraft will start its surveillance operation in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Seychelles from this week, official sources said.
The aircraft has been delivered six months after Indian defence minister AK Antony, on a two-day trip to Seychelles in July, agreed to provide a Dornier and two Chetak helicopters to the island nation. The air wing would help to help the country to carry out aerial surveillance in its EEZ, sources said.
India has also stepped up the visits of its warships to the region to help in anti-piracy operations against Somali and other mercenary pirates.
Seychelles president James Alix Michel was in India for a 2-day visit earlier this month, accompanied by foreign minister Jean Paul Adam, when he met prime minister Manmohan Singh, Earlier, in 2008, India had announced a $5 million assistance for defence related projects for Seychelles.
The supply of the aircraft and two Chetaks is over and above that aid.
India has taken several steps to build bridges with IOR nations in recent years, which range from joint patrols with other nations. Seychelles constitute an important part of this exercise.