India: Second helicopter ready for deployment

India has said that the second Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) gifted by India is ready for deployment to the Maldives.

This came in a press release by the High Commission of India in the Maldives, following recent rumours regarding the India-Maldives defence and security co-operation.

“The second ALH was given in December 2013 again on the request of GoM to further strengthen coastal and EEZ surveillance. The helicopter has been painted in Maldivian colours and is ready for deployment once the required hangar and other infrastructure are established by MNDF,” read the statement.

The High Commission also refuted claims about India’s refusal to train Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) soldiers operating the helicopter, and said that it has been India’s constant endeavour to ensure that Maldives is self-sufficient in operating the assets gifted by India.

In this regard, India said that one flight engineer and one technician from MNDF have completed the ALH technical courses in November 2014, and two slots for ALH pilot training have also been offered to MNDF in 2015.

The High Commission further refuted claims that the crew of Kurangi, the first ALH gifted by India, flew across some areas of Maldives without orders, and said that the Indian crew members who provide technical support are under the operational control of MNDF, and can fly Kurangi only on authorisation by MNDF.

Sun Online understands that Maldives has rejected India’s offer to train helicopter pilots, and instead suggested that the two new helicopters be operated by Indian pilots, as is done presently.