Following the second meeting of the High-level Core group between the Maldives and India a conclusion has been reached to work on a solution to allow for Indian military aircraft to remain in the Maldives.
During the meeting held at the Ministry of External Affairs, both sides reviewed the existing bilateral cooperation for improving and enhancing the partnership in the fields of defense and security cooperation, economics, and development partnership.
According to the statement by the Maldives Foreign Ministry, both sides have agreed for the Government of India to replace the military personnel in one of the three aviation platforms by 10 March 2024 and will complete replacing military personnel in the other two platforms by 10 May 2024.
According to the statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, both sides have agreed on a “set of mutually workable solutions” to enable the continued operation of Indian aviation platforms in the island nation.
The Indian military’s involvement in operating both Dornier and HAL helicopters has long been a contentious issue, sparking numerous debates. There has been ongoing discourse about the need to train Maldivian personnel to operate these aircraft. In 2021, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) announced an agreement with India to allow training for Maldivian pilots to operate the Dornier. However, despite plans to train five individuals as pilots, no locals have been granted access to the military aircraft thus far.
In ongoing discussions, if there is a transition away from military personnel while retaining the aircraft within the Maldives, the responsibility for operating these aircraft would rest either with non-military Indian personnel assigned by India or with to Maldivians.
It was agreed that the third meeting of the High-Level Core Group will be held in Male’ on a mutually agreeable date during the last week of February.