DESPITE PROTESTS from the UK, the Indian Navy transferred two of its Britten-Norman BN-2B Defender maritime surveillance aircraft to Myanmar in August.
Plans to supply the aircraft were announced on January 12 (see More Sea Harriers for India, March, p7). On January 30, British High Commissioner Michael Arthur said the UK would not provide spares or maintenance support for the aircraft if they were delivered, due to its opposition to Myanmar’s military administration. European Union guidelines preclude the sale of military equipment to Myanmar and Western nations have previously suspended military sales to the country in protest at its suppression of pro-democracy activists. On September 15, the United Nations Security Council added Myanmar to the countries it considers a threat to international peace and security.
India also plans to supply Myanmar with a number of HAL Dhruv helicopters, T-55 tanks, armoured personnel carriers, 105mm light artillery field guns and mortars. Indian Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt finalised the details during a visit to Yangon in September, which was kept quiet due to Western sensitivities. Myanmar’s military junta agreed in exchange to cooperate in flushing out separatist groups such as the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), which have long sought refuge in the dense jungles of Myanmar. India is also seeking to conduct joint military operations against militant groups in the northeast along India’s 1,020 mile (l,643km)-long border with Myanmar.