Another embarrassment for Muizzu: Maldives says its pilots cannot fly aircraft donated by India

Ghassan acknowledged that despite some Maldivian National Defense Force (MNDF) members being trained, no one was qualified to operate the aircraft provided by the Indian military. Indian forces have left the country at the request of Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu.

Livemint
First Published13 May 2024, 10:07 AM IST
Maldives' President Mohamed Muizzu
Maldives’ President Mohamed Muizzu(AFP)

Defense Minister Ghassan Maumoon confirmed shortcomings in the Maldivian military's aviation capabilities, shortly after the departure of 76 Indian defence personnel, who had been stationed in the Maldives to operate two helicopters and a Dornier aircraft. The Indian forces left at the request of Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, amid diplomatic tensions between Maldives and India.

Ghassan acknowledged during a press conference at the President’s Office that though some Maldivian National Defense Force (MNDF) members have started flying training, none were yet qualified to operate the aircraft provided by the Indian military. “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,” Ghassan stated, according to the Adhadhu.com news portal.

This confession contrasts sharply with the claims of key officials of the new administration, who have criticised the previous government for its mismanagement. These officials have asserted that the MNDF had competent pilots, challenging Ghassan's statements, as per the Firstpost report.

The helicopters and aircraft, supplied during the terms of former presidents Mohamed Nasheed, Abdulla Yameen, and Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, were intended primarily for training Maldivian personnel. However, the current status reveals that this training is incomplete. Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer emphasised on Saturday that the agreement to replace the Indian army with civilians included provisions for local pilot training, indicating ongoing efforts to develop Maldivian aviation capabilities despite current limitations, the report added.

Meanwhile, the Maldivian government has decided to retain the Indian doctors working at Senahiya Military Hospital, suggesting a selective approach to the presence of Indian personnel in the country. This situation continues to shape the strategic and diplomatic landscape between Maldives and India, according to the report.

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First Published:13 May 2024, 10:07 AM IST
HomeNewsIndiaAnother embarrassment for Muizzu: Maldives says its pilots cannot fly aircraft donated by India

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