In commemoration of the 77th Independence Day of India and the strengthening of India- Sri Lanka relations, the Indian Navy Dornier aircraft was handed over to the Sri Lanka Air Force. The High Commissioner of India, H.E. Gopal Baglay ceremonially handed over the aircraft to Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, the Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser to the President on National Security at a solemn event at SLAF Base Katunayake. The event was also attended by senior officials from Sri Lanka Air Force and the Defence Adviser of India. The India-made Dornier is the second such aircraft to be deployed with SLAF on lease under Government of India grant. It replaces the first Indian Navy Dornier aircraft which returned to India for scheduled maintenance after one year of service since its ceremonial handing over to H.E. Ranil Wickremesinghe, President of Sri Lanka, exactly one year ago, on 15 August 2022.

The induction of state of the art Indian Navy Dornier Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft would exponentially increase the surveillance capability of Sri Lanka and would be force multiplier for the Sri Lanka Air Force. High Commissioner, H.E. Gopal Baglay highlighted that India has remained committed towards capacity building and sustained development of Sri Lanka Defence forces, as a reflection of the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR). He also mentioned that this engagement would be further cemented by sourcing of additional Dornier aircraft by Sri Lanka with Indian assistance in the future.

The arrival of the Indian Navy reconnaissance aircraft is indicative of the growing cooperation and friendship between the two nations. In his remarks, H.E. Gopal Baglay emphasised that the Indian Navy Dornier deployed last year made significant contribution towards maritime reconnaissance and SAR missions. The aircraft’s operational availability was impressive and was able to streamline the SOPs between the two services. He further highlighted that securing our seas through the induction of this aircraft, will help in creating a peaceful environment for progress & prosperity of the people of our two nations and is symbolic of the high priority accorded to Sri Lanka as part of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.

The Dornier aircraft with its advanced sensor fit would provide the Sri Lanka Air Force with improved capability to tackle common security challenges in the region such as Drug & Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Search & Rescue. It may be recalled that Maritime Security has been identified as a key pillar of the Colombo Security Conclave and induction of this platform into the Sri Lanka Air Force would positively contribute towards keeping the vast EEZ of Sri Lanka free from maritime threats.