NEW DELHI: As part of the overall strategy to prevent China from further spreading its influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India is sending a Dornier aircraft to Maldives to help the country in maritime surveillance.
Defence ministry sources said an Indian Navy Dornier would begin its maritime reconnaissance missions from Male over the weekend. This comes in the backdrop of defence minister A K Antony's recent visit to Maldives, where he promised measures to bolster defence cooperation with Maldives.
Under the new plan, India will apparently help Maldives set up a network of ground radars in all its 26 atolls and link them with the Indian military surveillance systems.
Moreover, amid fears in Male that one of its island resorts could be taken over by terrorists, India will also provide Maldives with a couple of helicopters, as also help patrol its territorial waters with both warships and reconnaissance aircraft.
India has taken several steps to build bridges with IOR nations, which range from joint patrols with Indonesian and Sri Lankan navies and exercises with Singapore and Oman to providing seaward security for international summits in Mozambique.
Maldives, in particular, constitutes an important part of this strategy since China is making persistent moves in the region as part of its military diplomacy.
India, on its part, has always been willing to help Maldives in times of crisis. Indian paratroopers and naval warships, for instance, were rushed to Maldives in November 1988 by the Rajiv Gandhi government under Operation Cactus to thwart the coup attempt against the Abdul Gayoom government.
Similarly, India had deployed two ships and four aircraft to Maldives after the killer tsunami struck in end-2004. "In April 2006, India gifted a fast attack craft INS Tillanchang to Maldives as a goodwill gesture. Apart from training, hydrographic and military assistance, our ships visit the country regularly,'' said an officer.