Recent spy shots have revealed India is in advanced stages of building a naval and air base in Mauritius. The defence facility, for which India requested access in 2015, is on North Agalega Island and will serve as an air and naval staging point for surveillance around south-west Indian Ocean. A joint US-UK base already exists at Diego Garcia in Mauritius.

A Lowy Institute report, which compared the most recent images from Google Earth to the same location as seen in 2014, said a new 3000-metre runway is now clearly visible with considerable apron overshadows. The project, the report said, entails a new airport, port and logistics and communication facilities. So far, project details have been kept tightly under the wraps by both India and Mauritius.

The imagery also shows what looks like barracks and fields which could be used as parade grounds or sporting facilities located near the north end of the runway. These images do not readily show evidence of fuel storage facilities or communications and intelligence installations. Such equipment and facilities are expected to be visible in future imagery, the report said.

The Lowy Institute report also refers to India’s failed attempt to build a new naval and air facility on Seychelles’ Assumption Island to develop its military access to the south-west Indian Ocean and Mozambique Channel.

The report said that in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed an agreement with the then Seychelles President to develop Assumption Island for military use. But the deal generated considerable political opposition in Seychelles. A revised deal was signed in 2018, but the recently elected Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan canned the project.