India has officially handed over a Do 228 turboprop aircraft to the Mauritius Coast Guard, which will lease it for maritime security duties.
The Indian Navy said the aircraft (MSN 4059) was handed over to the Maritime Air Squadron of the National Coast Guard on 13 September.
The High Commissioner of India to Mauritius, Nandini K Singla, said the aircraft had been leased to Mauritius by the Indian Navy for free to support the current increased load of air operations, and that next year India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) would be handing over a brand new Do 228 to Mauritius (HAL manufactures the Do 228 in India). This aircraft is being purchased through a line of credit between Mauritius and India.
Singla emphasised on the friendly ties and naval cooperation existing between Mauritius and India, a relation which she said has only flourished with time.
The lease of the Do 228 comes months after the Indian government offered Mauritius a $100 million loan to fund the procurement of Indian-made aircraft and naval security equipment for the Mauritius Coast Guard.
The deal was signed during the meeting between Indian External Affairs minister S Jaishankar and Mauritian Prime Minister Pravin Jugnauth in February this year.
In terms of the agreement, Mauritius will procure military equipment, including aircraft and patrol boats, from Indian defence equipment manufacturers. In addition, the Indian government will loan a single Dhruv helicopter to boost the Coast Guard’s maritime surveillance capabilities.
Meanwhile, a new report by the Australian National University National Security College says India has begun developing a naval base on North Agalega island which lies about 1 100 km north of mainland Mauritius.
The report said a comparison of two sets of Google Earth imagery taken in October 2014 and October 2020 showed that major airport and port infrastructure development projects are underway.
These include a new airport with an extended new runway, port facilities as well as logistical and communications bases.
It is assumed that the base in Mauritius will help extend Indian Navy maritime surveillance and electronic intelligence gathering over the South-West Indian Ocean. The airport being built on North Agalega is deemed capable of hosting the Indian Navy’s new P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft.