Satellite imagery, financial data and on-the-ground evidence obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit point to India building a naval facility on the remote Mauritian island of Agaléga.
Aircraft that want to land on Agaléga currently have to use a short 800-metre landing strip, only long enough for the Mauritian coastguard’s propeller planes.
The new airstrip, still under construction, will be as long as runways used by the biggest aeroplanes in the world at large international airports.
Samuel Bashfield, a researcher at the National Security College at the Australian National University, told Al Jazeera the Indian Ocean is increasingly becoming a hotspot for nations to expand their geopolitical influence.
“The southwest Indian Ocean is an area where it’s important for India to have areas where their aircraft can support their ships, and also where it has areas it can use as launching pads for operations,” he said.
“I think as an addition to India’s other points that it can operate from, it’s incredibly important,” Bashfield, whose research focuses on strategic and geopolitical issues in the Indian Ocean, said.
“I think it’s an absolutely perfect spot for a military base.”
The pictures and data show how, over the last two years, the island has become home to hundreds of construction workers living in a semi-permanent camp on the northern tip of the 12km (7.5-mile) long island.