Thursday, September 29, 2022

India gifts Dornier to Sri Lanka a day ahead of Chinese vessel arrival

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India presented a Dornier reconnaissance aircraft to Sri Lanka on Monday to help the island nation combat drug trafficking and maritime security problems, only a day before a disputed visit by a Chinese research vessel.

The aircraft was presented at a special ceremony at the Sri Lankan Air Force facility in Katunayake.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Indian Navy Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, Indian Ambassador Gopal Baglay, and the chiefs of Sri Lanka’s three services attended the ceremony, which coincided with India’s 75th anniversary of independence.

The public outpouring of support for bolstering Sri Lanka’s marine security occurred only a day before the arrival of the Yuan Wang 5, a vessel used by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to detect satellites and ballistic missiles, at Hambantota Port. After requesting that the ship’s arrival on August 5 be postponed, the Sri Lankan side caved into Chinese pressure and authorised the vessel’s entry.

Keeping in mind the ship’s monitoring capabilities, both India and the United States rejected the Yuan Wang 5’s arrival at the Chinese-controlled Hambantota port. On Friday, India refuted China’s claims that New Delhi exerted pressure on Colombo to prevent the Chinese warship from visiting.

The Dornier aircraft will be operated by Sri Lankan naval and air force personnel who were trained in India for over four months, according to a statement from the external affairs ministry. Their Indian counterparts will also provide operational assistance.

“The aircraft would function as a force multiplier, allowing Sri Lanka to more effectively combat several threats such as human and drug trafficking, smuggling, and other organised forms of crime in its coastal seas.” The aircraft’s arrival is opportune, given the ongoing threats to Sri Lanka’s marine security, according to the statement.
The aircraft’s capacity to conduct search and rescue missions shows its immediate usefulness to the Sri Lankan people, and the gift “will empower the country to contribute more to the security of the Indian Ocean Region at large,” according to the statement.

The Colombo Security Conclave, which comprises India, the Maldives, Mauritius, and Sri Lanka, as well as Bangladesh and Seychelles as observer states, has recognised maritime security as a crucial pillar.

In his remarks on the occasion, Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay stated that the aircraft’s inclusion will “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 also highlights India and Sri Lanka’s defence and security cooperation, according to the external affairs ministry. This collaboration is intended to provide additional capability and capacity to Sri Lanka and is consistent with India’s goal of Security and Growth for All in the Region  (SAGAR).

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