NEW DELHI — India is considering giving helicopters to Myanmar as part of an effort to build defense ties with its northeastern neighbor. The head of the Indian Air Force, Chief Air Marshal N.A.K. Browne, is likely to discuss the possibility during his Nov. 26-29 visit to Myanmar, sources in the Indian defense forces said.
No details are available.
India is reaching out to its maritime neighbors as part of a long-term strategy to secure its interests in the Indian Ocean Rim. China operates a military base in the Coco Islands on land leased from Myanmar, and India hopes to check Chinese influence in the region.
India has given Myanmar weapons and equipment, including maritime patrol aircraft, 105mm light artillery guns and grenade launchers.
Last year, Myanmar announced it was halting the $3.6 billion Chinese-aided Irrawaddy Myitsone hydroelectric dam project in Kachin state, a move that irked Beijing and pleased New Delhi. The announcement was made days before Myanmar President Thein Sein’s visit to the Indian capital.
The two countries have also agreed to undertake projects to meet Myanmar’s energy requirements — a move seen as a compensation for the loss of the proposed Chinese hydroelectric project The Indian states of Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, close to remote and inaccessible regions of Myanmar, have been plagued by insurgencies for decades.