Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe thanked India for gifting a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to the island nation on Monday. The aircraft will enhance Sri Lankan Navy’s maritime surveillance capabilities and bolster the India-Sri Lanka defence ties.
“This is the start of cooperation between our Air force, Navy and Indian Navy in maritime surveillance,” Wickremesinghe said.
President Wickremesinghe further said that history has brought both nations together like two sides of the same coin and the two countries must forge ahead together.
Vice Chief of Indian Navy Vice Admiral S N Ghormade, who is on a two-day visit to the country, accompanied by Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Gopal Baglay, handed over the maritime surveillance aircraft to the Sri Lanka Navy at the Sri Lanka Air Force base in Katunayake, adjoining the Colombo international airport.
The aircraft will be flown and maintained only by 15 Sri Lanka Airforce crew who were specifically trained in India for four months.
The team consists of pilots, observers, engineering officers and technicians. They will be supervised by the government of India technical team attached to the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).
The team would undertake comprehensive supervision of aircraft, airframe, aircraft support equipment, ground support equipment, and relevant documents and would ascertain the serviceability of all the assets.
Dornier was handed over to Sri Lanka a day before a high-tech Chinese missile and satellite tracking ship docks at the island nation’s Hambantota port, despite India’s concerns.
The ship was originally scheduled to arrive at the port on August 11 but its arrival was delayed in absence of permission by the Sri Lankan authorities.
Sri Lanka had asked China to defer the visit amid India’s concerns over it. On Saturday, Colombo granted the port access to the vessel from August 16 to August 22.
There were apprehensions in New Delhi about the possibility of the vessel’s tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian installations while being on its way to the Sri Lankan port.
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