Seychelles Defence Forces receives Maritime Video Downlink Systems from the United States of America |31 March 2023
The Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF) has officially received two Maritime Video Downlink Systems from the United States of America (US).
The donation of the equipment is part of the United States' active foreign military financing programme. It supports shared US and Seychelles’ goals in strengthening regional maritime security and enhances the capacity of SDF as a partner and leader in the region’s efforts to combat illicit activity in the Indian Ocean.
The system, which is capable of transmitting live images from airborne surveillance assets to multiple receive sites, have been installed on the two Seychelles Airforce Dorniers.
The first installation was done in October 2016 on SAF-Dornier SY-010 and the second in March 2022 on SAF-Dornier SY-011.
Equipment in relation to receiving the images from the system were also installed on four of the Seychelles Coast Guard vessels, namely on patrol ships (PS)Topaz, Etoile, Zoroaster and AUX Saya De Malha.
The official donation of the system took place in a short ceremony held yesterday morning at the Seychelles Air Force Hangar, Pointe Larue.
It was the US ambassador to our country, Henry Jardine, and the US Brigadier General from the United States Africa Command (Africom), Peter Bailey, who officially handed over the Maritime Video Downlink System to the Chief of the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), Brigadier Michael Rosette.
Present were the chief of staff of the SDF, Colonel Jean Atala, the chairman of the Defence and Security Committee of the National Assembly, Honourable Clifford Andre, the US assistant defence attaché, Carol Deford, members of the Defence Forces Council, senior officers, officers and non-commissioned officers and invited guests.
In his remarks for the occasion, Ambassador Jardine, who expressed his condolences to SDF and to the family of trainee Chad Payet who died during a training session early this week, said that it was an honour for him to make the handover of the Maritime Video Downlink Systems to SDF given that United States and Seychelles are partners in combatting piracy, countering illicit trafficking, and ensuring maritime safety and security in the region.
“With this equipment, the Seychelles Defence Forces will improve its ability to provide a real time picture and produce an understanding of the situations and conditions in an area, allowing for rapid mobilisation of assets to counter any threat or maritime safety issue,” Ambassador Jardine said.
He noted that by coordinating efforts between air assets, a ground receiving station, and mobile receiving stations, our waters will continue to remain a safe area for trade and commerce, and the movement of people and critical goods and resources.
“I look forward to the ongoing cooperation between our two countries in the continuing the fight against piracy and illegal trafficking and building a safer maritime region for all,” he said.
For his part, Brigadier General Bailey, who also conveyed his condolences on the passing away of trainee recruit Payet, said that while both the US and our country are inextricably linked by sea, ensuring free maritime trade and prudent management of resources is key to both country’s mutual security and prosperity.
“I am particularly pleased to note that this system aided the success of our joint patrol under our bilateral Counter Illicit Transitional Maritime Activity Operations Agreement and I am honoured to be part of this event,” said Brigadier General Bailey who commended our country for having proven to be a true partner in bringing capability and experience in the fight against illegal fishing, piracy and illicit trafficking of all types.
Brigadier Rosette said that the system, since installed, has increased the interoperability and information sharing between SDF’s aircraft, ships and troops on the ground.
He added that in today’s world, fixed wing aircraft and offshore patrol vessels have become a crucial element in maritime surveillance and operations across the globe and that SDF is honoured to have such system which will allow mission commanders to effectively analyse the situation and be in a better position to make swift effective decisions
“This system has been effectively used by SDF and if I may say, it is a game changer in a variety of operations in our EEZ such as in anti-narcotic, illegal fishing and search and rescue to name a few,” said the Brigadier, who noted that the system has enhanced the quality of evidence gathering and recording capabilities that has been a vital component for prosecution purposes that led to successful legal finish.
He thanked the US government for the valuable donation and for the other projects in the pipeline, for the time being, for the SCG.
Speaking to the press in relation to the passing away of recruit Payet, Brigadier Rosette said that his training colleagues are in stable condition and that they have been receiving mentorship from the SDF Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Louis Agathine and from other SDF social personnel and psychologists.
Text & photos by Patrick Joubert