The Indian Defense Minister AK Antony, on Monday, agreed to provide three aircraft to Seychelles on its request. An Indian Ministry of Defense statement said, “On a specific request from the Seychelles, Mr. Antony agreed to provide one new Dornier and two Chetak helicopters from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for maritime surveillance, at the earliest.” The statement quoted him as saying that although delivery would normally take 18 to 24 months, New Delhi would try to provide the aircraft in 15 months. In the meantime, India is to provide an in-service Dornier Aircraft to carry out maritime surveillance. This comes after Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh committed $ 5 million assistance to Seychelles for defense-related projects during the visit of Seychellois President James Alix Michel to India earlier.
Antony met President Michel, Vice President Danny Faure, the Minister for Home Affairs Joel Morgan and Foreign Minister Jean Paul Adam in Mahe, while leading a delegation comprising Defense Secretary Pradeep Kumar and the Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral DK Dewan.
India also agreed to extend help for maritime and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance operations and capacity building of Seychellois forces to tackle the spread of piracy in the Indian Ocean region . Antony said India would help the Seychelles carry out EEZ surveillance as frequently as possible, with additional Indian naval visits this year, to conduct surveillance and hydrographic surveys. Seychellois personnel would be invited to embark Indian vessels for maintenance training and drills.
While the Seychelles has accepted the assistance of the United Nations to set up courts to try alleged pirates, India has not so far offered specific assistance in this regard. The Indian Navy and the Ministry of Defense have mooted draft legislation to amend the Indian Penal Code to include piracy as a separate offense, enabling courts in India, such as the Maritime Bench of the Mumbai High Court to try suspected pirates, also signaling a willingness to take on responsibility for investigation and prosecution of such offenses. The draft is currently under consideration by the Indian Law Ministry.
The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) had decided to base MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the Seychelles last year, in addition to deploying P-3 Orion aircraft for anti-piracy operations. The Indian announcements are in line with policies meant to ensure that its engagement with the littoral nations of the Indian Ocean precludes any significant growth of the presence of any other power. For instance, the Indian Navy had provided sea-front security to the capital of Mozambique, Maputo, during international events there in 2003 and 2005, and has also offered assistance to other nations.