India gifted a Dornier maritime reconnaissance aircraft to Sri Lanka on Monday, a day before a high-tech Chinese missile and satellite tracking ship docks at the island nation’s strategic Hambantota port.
Vice Chief of Indian Navy Vice Admiral S N Ghormade, who is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, accompanied by Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Gopal Baglay, handed over the aircraft to the Sri Lanka Navy at the Sri Lanka Air Force base in Katunayake, adjoining the Colombo international airport. Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe was also present at the handover ceremony.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Monday that the aircraft would act as a force multiplier, enabling Sri Lanka to tackle multiple challenges such as human and drug trafficking, smuggling and other organised forms of crime in its coastal waters more effectively.
“Induction of the aircraft is timely in view of the current challenges to Sri Lanka’s maritime security,” the MEA said in an official statement.
Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner Baglay emphasised that induction of the aircraft will help in creating a peaceful environment for progress and prosperity of the people of India and Sri Lanka.
Gifting of the Dornier aircraft underscores the cooperation between the two maritime neighbours in defence and security spheres. Such cooperation is envisaged to add further capability and capacity to Sri Lanka and is in line with the vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), the statement said.
It also noted that maritime security has been identified as a key pillar of the Colombo Security Conclave.
“Security of India and Srilanka is enhanced by mutual understanding, mutual trust and cooperation. Gifting of Dornier 228 is India’s latest contribution to this cause,” Baglay said at the handing over event.
In his address, President Wickremesinghe thanked India for gifting the Dornier aircraft to Sri Lanka and said it will help start cooperation between the Sri Lanka Air Force and Sri Lanka Navy with the Indian Navy in maritime surveillance.
“This is the start of cooperation between the Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Navy with the Indian Navy in maritime surveillance,” he said.
The aircraft is being provided to Sri Lanka from the inventory of the Indian Navy to help the country meet its immediate security requirement. The Indian Navy has already provided extensive training to a team from Sri Lanka’s Navy and the Air Force to operate the maritime surveillance aircraft.