Mauritius Inducts Two Aircraft From India

Mauritius commissioned a passenger variant Do-228 aircraft and a leased Dhruv helicopter into the Mauritius Police Force (MPF) on April 27. The acquisitions utilized a $100 million line of credit extended by India. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured both aircraft. Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar Jugnauth stated that the inductions will enhance the operational capabilities of law enforcement officers. The High Commission of India in Port Louis stated that the aircraft will help in catering to ever-increasing maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean Region.

HAL Dhruv and Do-228 during the induction ceremony in Mauritius (India in Mauritius)

The newly delivered Do-228 (MP-CG-5) will replace a leased Do-228 (MSN 4059) which was handed over to Mauritius in September 2021. The leased aircraft had been provided by the Indian Navy on a gratis basis to support the increased load of air operations while HAL manufactured and delivered a new one. The Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv (MPH 10) has also been leased with the same goal. HAL had signed a contract with Mauritius in January 2022 to export one Dhruv helicopter. MPH 10 will be operated until the new Dhruv is delivered.

The Maritime Air Squadron (MAS) of the National Coast Guard (NCG), which is a part of MPF, will operate the Do-228. Prior to this induction, MAS had four operational aircraft which consisted of three Indian Do-228 aircraft and one BN-2T Defender. The BN-2T (MP-CG-2) has faced serviceability issues and is expected to be replaced by the fourth Do-228. The existing Dorniers were inducted in 1990 (MP-CG-1), 2004 (MP-CG-3) and 2016 (MP-CG-4). In fact, it was the 1990 transfer of a Dornier by India that enabled the establishment of the MAS. All of the Do-228s were equipped with underwing 7.62x51mm machine gun pods by 2018.

The Police Helicopter Squadron (PHS) of MPF will operate the Dhruv. The PHS already operates six helicopters, which consists of four HAL Chetaks along with a Eurocopter Fennec and a Dhruv. The Dhruv was delivered in 2009, while two of the Chetaks were delivered in 2016. The PHS undertakes missions up to 90 nautical miles out at sea and aims to ensure at least 60% availability in its fleet.

The MPF is heavily reliant on India for acquisition and maintenance of its fleet of aircraft and ships. The three largest vessels: CGS Barracuda, CGS Victory and CGS Valiant and most of the smaller craft used by NCG have been made in India and supplied using a combination of grants and line of credit. The traditionally close relations with India also extends to the personnel involved. NCG, PHS and MAS are regularly headed by Indian commanding officers on secondment. India is also building a large airstrip and jetties in the remote Agalega archipelago. The site, capable of hosting aircraft such as the P-8I, is widely expected to be used by the Indian Navy along with MPF units. This would help India maintain a persistent presence in the south-western Indian Ocean.