The Maldives has inducted a pair of Baykar Bayraktar TB2 unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), which will be operated by the Indian Ocean nation’s new air corps.

The two UAVs were inaugurated during a ceremony at Maafaru International airport, which is located on the island of Maafaru.

Maldives President with TB2

Source: Maldives National Defence Force

Maldives president Mohamed Muizzu inspects one of his country’s two new TB2s

The country’s defence ministry says the UAVs will be used for the surveillance of territorial waters, law enforcement, and the monitoring of incidents at sea.

The UAVs will be the first aircraft to serve with the newly established Maldives National Defence Force’s (MNDF’s) Air Corps.

“Establishing the nation’s first-ever air force and deploying UAVs in that force represents a powerful and important step in preserving the nation’s independence and sovereignty,” says the office of Maldivian president Mohamed Muizzu.

“The service will significantly contribute to maintaining the security and safety of the nation’s maritime territories and deterring illicit activities.”

While best known as a leisure destination, the Maldives sits astride strategic Indian Ocean shipping routes.

The country has taken on greater strategic significance as Male’s relationship with China warms and its relationship with India – traditionally its main partner – sours. This includes Male’s ordering Indian troops stationed on its territory to leave. It has also signed a new a defence pact with Beijing.

Cirium fleets data indicates that the MNDF operates just four aircraft, all of Indian origin. These are two Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) Dhruv helicopters, and a pair of HAL-produced Dornier 228s.