India gifted Sri Lanka a Dornier maritime reconnaissance aircraft on Monday, a day before a high-tech Chinese missile and satellite tracking ship docked at the island country’s strategic Hambantota port.
Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, Vice Chief of the Indian Navy, who is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, along with Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay in Colombo, handed over the aircraft to the Sri Lankan Navy at the Sri Lanka Air Force base in Katunayake. , adjacent to 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 will act as a force multiplier, enabling Sri Lanka to more effectively deal with a range of challenges such as human and drug trafficking, smuggling and other organized forms of crime in its coastal waters.
“The aircraft has been inducted on time given the current challenges to Sri Lanka’s maritime security,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in an official statement.
Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner Baglay stressed that induction of the aircraft would help in creating a peaceful environment for the progress and prosperity of the people of India and Sri Lanka.
The gift of the Dornier aircraft underscores the cooperation in defence and security areas between the two maritime neighbours. Such cooperation is envisaged to add more capacity and capability to Sri Lanka and is in line with the Security and Development for All (SAGAR) vision in the region, the statement said.
It also noted that maritime security has been recognized as a key pillar of the Colombo Security Convention.
“The security of India and Sri Lanka has been enhanced by mutual understanding, mutual trust and cooperation. The gifting of the Dornier 228 is India’s latest contribution to this cause.”
In his address, President Wickremesinghe thanked India for gifting the Dornier aircraft to Sri Lanka and said it would help initiate cooperation between the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Sri Lanka Navy with the Indian Navy in maritime surveillance.
“This is the beginning 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 urgent security requirement. The Indian Navy has already provided extensive training to a team of Sri Lankan Navy and Air Force to operate maritime surveillance aircraft.