NEW DELHI: In a bid to strengthen the maritime security of the island nation, India gifted a Dornier Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft to Sri Lanka on Monday at a special event held in Sri Lanka Air Force Base, Katunayake. The landmark event coincided with the celebration of India's 75th Anniversary of Independence.
"India gifted a Dornier Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft on 15 August 2022 towards strengthening the maritime security of Sri Lanka at a special event held in Sri Lanka Air Force Base, Katunayake," a press release by Ministry of External Affairs read. Navy and Air Force personnel of Sri Lanka who received training in India for close to four months shall operate the aircraft. They will also receive operational support from their Indian counterparts.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, High Commissioner Gopal Baglay, Chief of Staff to the President Sagala Ratnayaka, Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne, Vice Chief of Naval Staff of Indian Navy Vice Admiral S.N. Ghormade, Chief of Defence Staff General Shavendra Silva and Army, Navy and Air Force Chiefs of Sri Lanka graced the occasion. The aircraft would act as a force multiplier, enabling Sri Lanka to tackle multiple challenges such as human and drug trafficking, smuggling and other organized 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 capability of the aircraft to undertake Search and Rescue operations exemplifies its direct benefit to the people. The gift to the people of Sri Lanka will equip the country to contribute more toward the security of the Indian Ocean Region at large. It may be recalled that maritime security has been identified as a key pillar of the Colombo Security Conclave. Speaking on the occasion, High Commissioner Gopal Baglay emphasized that the 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 Dornier aircraft underscores the cooperation between the two maritime neighbours in the 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).