The Seychelles government is due to receive two new Y-12 turboprop aircraft from China next month as China aims to improve cooperation with the island nation. The announcement to donate the two aircraft came during a bilateral meeting in March.
A Chinese delegation lead by the Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Qishan, met with Seychelles President James Michel in late March. China agreed to donate two Y-12Es and gave the Seychelles a 50 million Yuan grant to build a school and two housing projects.
The two aircraft will be used for counter-piracy operations and will patrol the Seychelles’ Exclusive Economic Zone. Piracy is a major problem off Seychelles coast, and especially closer to the Somali coast.
“We have to divert much needed resources to combat this evil, which is heavily impacting on our tourism and fisheries industries – our livelihood. We are indeed grateful to have friends like China which are helping us in the fight against piracy and to help us keep open and safe at all times the maritime routes between Africa and China,” Michel said in March.
“Seychelles has given China great support in the fight against piracy, particularly during an operation when China was rescuing a pirated ship. We will continue to work together to stop this threat which has affected the Seychelles economy,” Qishan added.
The aircraft will be delivered next month with spares and support equipment. At the moment two Seychellois pilots and two technicians are undergoing training on the Y-12s in China. The aircraft will be delivered through CATIC (China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation).
Seychelles Resident Ambassador to China Philippe Le Gall said early this month that he was reassured that Seychelles would get “an excellent general-purpose aircraft, ideal for inter-island transportation needs, especially with the company’s commitment to provide first-class, after-sale technical support.”
“We have a long history of cooperation with China and it is having strong partners like China that permits us to do things we would otherwise not be able to do without this level of support,” said Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Paul Adam.
“I feel proud to state that China has all along been a sincere and understandable partner of Seychelles in its development process. Only a few days ago, we laid the foundation stone for a new Judicial Complex, and next month, a brand new hospital will be officially handed over to Seychelles. Recently, we have inaugurated 2 new schools. Besides which we have sent almost 600 young Seychellois on training in China and opened a new Parliament building. And there are many other projects in the pipeline amongst which [are] housing development projects,” Michel said during the March meeting.
The Y-12 is a twin-engined utility aircraft built by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation (HAMC). Maximum payload is 5 700 kg with seating for 17 passengers as well as two crewmembers. The Y-12E variant has 18 passenger seats and Pratt & Whitney PT6A engines.