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Sri Lanka thanks India for helping to protect airspace, sea

Sri Lanka has thanked India for helping to protect the island nation’s airspace and the sea including its exclusive economic zone through maritime and coastal surveillance operations.

The gratitude towards India came on Wednesday from Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s senior Advisor on National Security Sagala Ratnayaka when he was accepting a successor Indian Navy Dornier aircraft handed over to the Sri Lanka Air Force. 

The Donier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft will replace the one which was handed over exactly a year ago to the island nation by the Indian government. 

The Dornier had to be returned to India for scheduled mandatory maintenance. 

Following a request by Sri Lanka during a bilateral security discussion on the potential acquisition of maritime surveillance aircraft between India and Sri Lanka in January 2018 in New Delhi, the Donier which was part of the Indian Navy’s fleet was given to Sri Lanka on free of cost for a span of two years.

Ratnayaka appreciated India’s support, especially during the financial crisis Sri Lanka was going through last year and said “India stepped up beyond the call of duty to lend us a hand”.
He also stressed that the two neighbours, Sri Lanka and India, “will have to work together to ensure the safety of each other”.  He also recollected that the US and Australian governments also came forward in the area of maritime security to assist the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Sri Lanka Navy.

Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay said that India has remained committed towards capacity building and sustained development of Sri Lanka’s Defence forces, as a reflection of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR). 

He also said that this engagement would be further cemented by sourcing additional Dornier aircraft by Sri Lanka with Indian assistance in the future.

Baglay emphasised that the Indian Navy Dornier deployed last year made a significant contribution towards maritime reconnaissance and SAR missions in Sri Lanka. “The aircraft’s operational availability was impressive and was able to streamline the SOPs between the two services.”

“Securing our seas through the induction of this aircraft will help in creating a peaceful environment for progress and 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 Indian High Commission said in a statement.

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