India has given to Seychelles a Dornier maritime reconnaissance aircraft for surveillance and anti-piracy missions in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR)that is plagued by piracy threats in and around the Gulf of Aden.
The fixed-wing aircraft will start its surveillance operation in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Seychelles from this week, official sources said. The aircraft was delivered six months after Defense Minister A.K. Antony, on a two-day trip to Seychelles in July, agreed to provide a Dornier and two Chetak helicopters to the archipelago nation.
This was to help the country to carry out aerial surveillance in its EEZ, the sources said.
India has also stepped up the visits of its warships to the region to help in anti-piracy operations against Somali and other mercenary pirates. Seychelles President James Alix Michel was in India for a 2-day visit earlier this month, accompanied by Foreign Minister Jean Paul Adam.
The president met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who, in 2008, announced a $5 million assistance for defence related projects for Seychelles. The supply of the aircraft and two Chetaks is over and above that aid.
The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have intensified patrolling in the region to curb hijack attempts by pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s. India has taken several steps to build bridges with IOR nations in recent years, which range from joint patrols with other nations. Seychelles constitute an important part of this exercise.