It replaces the first Indian Navy Dornier aircraft which returned to India for scheduled maintenance
In another demonstration of the growing relations between India and Sri Lanka, an Indian Navy Dornier aircraft was handed over to the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) on Wednesday (August 16, 2023).

The India-made Dornier is the second such aircraft to be deployed with SLAF on lease under a 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 Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe exactly one year ago, on August 15, 2022.

"#IN successor Dornier handed over by High Commissioner to Mr. Sagala Ratnayaka, the Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser to the President in a solemn ceremonial event today, commemorating #IndiaAt77 and the strong (India-Sri Lanka) relationship," the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka tweeted after the handover ceremony which marked the 77th Independence Day of India.

India's High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay ceremonially handed over the aircraft to Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser to the President on National Security Sagala Ratnayaka at a solemn event at SLAF Base Katunayake. The event was also attended by senior officials from the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Defence Adviser of India.

The induction of the 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, the Indian High Commission pointed out. The arrival of the Indian Navy reconnaissance aircraft is indicative of the growing cooperation and friendship between the two nations, it added.

It is worthwhile to note that Maritime Security has been identified as a key pillar of the Colombo Security Conclave, which was formed in 2011 as a trilateral grouping of India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The roadmap of activities was later expanded, with Mauritius joining as the fourth member and Bangladesh & Seychelles participating as observer countries.

Induction of this Dornier platform into the Sri Lanka Air Force would positively contribute towards keeping the vast EEZ of Sri Lanka free from maritime threats, the Indian High Commission said.

In his remarks, Baglay emphasised that the Indian Navy Dornier deployed last year made a significant contribution towards maritime reconnaissance and Search and Rescue (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.

According to the High Commissioner, India has remained committed towards capacity building and sustained development of Sri Lanka Defence forces, as a reflection of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision 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.