Mauritius has ordered a Do 228 aircraft from India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for maritime surveillance duties. It will join another two flown by the Coast Guard.
The $16 million contract with HAL was signed on November 27 in Port Louis by the Senior Chief Executive of the Prime Minister’s Office, Kan Oye Fong Weng-Poorun, and the Managing Director of HAL, S Subrahmanyan.
The Mauritius Government Information Service said the aircraft will be equipped for the maritime surveillance role, and will receive a 360-degree surveillance radar, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system, traffic collision and avoidance system, weather radar, satellite communication link and other mission equipment. The radar will apparently be able to track up to 2 000 objects at a range of 400 km while its FLIR will enable night operations.
The aircraft will be used for maritime surveillance, search and rescue, exclusive economic zone (EEZ) monitoring, pollution monitoring and control, casualty evacuation and island support. In addition, in armed configuration it will be used for anti-piracy missions. It is not clear what the Do 228 will be armed with, although the aircraft has four wing hardpoints capable of carrying loads of up to 1 030 kg.
During the signing ceremony, Weng-Poorun said the contract between Mauritius and HAL was another example of the close relationship shared between the two countries. She said the new aircraft would enhance the surveillance capacity of the Mauritius Police Force and particularly the National Coast Guard. With the acquisition of the CGS Barracuda, two Water Jet Fast Patrol vessels, 10 Fast Interceptor boats and one Dornier aircraft, the Mauritian Coast Guard will become one of the leading Coast Guards in the region, she stated.
The National Coast Guard’s Maritime Air Squadron at Port Louis-Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport already flies two Dornier 228s, which entered service in July 1990 and March 2004. The Coast Guard also flies a Defender. Weng-Poorun said it was important to reinforce the Coast Guard’s aerial fleet given security challenges like piracy and the need to develop the ocean economy.
During a state visit by Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam to India in February 2012, India offered the island nation an economic package that included a $250 million line of credit. Of that, $64 million was earmarked for defence purposes. HAL has in the past supplied aircraft to Mauritius, including Cheetah, Chetak and Dhruv helicopters.