India on Sunday described Sri Lanka as “Priority One” partner in the defence sphere and said the participation of its military aircraft in the 70th anniversary celebration of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) is indicative of the growing cooperation, camaraderie and friendship between the two militaries.
The SLAF is celebrating its 70th Anniversary on March 2 and to commemorate the historical event, a Fly Past and an Aerobatic Display is being organised for the first time in the country at a grand scale.
A total of 23 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy would participate in the grand event.
Sri Lanka is “Priority One” partner for India in the defence sphere, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a statement on Sunday.
It said the assurance of India’s fullest cooperation in the field of defence and security was recently reiterated to Sri Lanka’s leadership by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval during his visit to Colombo for a trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation.
Doval attended the high-level trilateral maritime dialogue in Colombo among India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives in November last year. The meeting – hosted by Sri Lanka – took place after six years. The last meeting was held in New Delhi in 2014.
The statement underlined that the participation of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy aircraft and personnel in the 70th Anniversary celebration of the SLAF is indicative of the growing cooperation, camaraderie and friendship between the Armed Forces of the two nations.
“As a gesture of solidarity, and in keeping with years of close interaction and camaraderie between the two countries and their militaries, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy will participate in the event with an Aerobatic Display by Sarang (Advance Light Helicopter), Surya Kiran (Hawks), Tejas Fighter Aircraft, Tejas Trainer and the Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft,” it said.
“The deployment of such wide variety and huge inventory of aircrafts and helicopters of IAF and Indian Navy is testimony to the strong bonds of friendship and close interoperability shared between the corresponding forces of India and Sri Lanka services,” the Indian mission said.
It said that all the Indian aircraft on display are ‘Made in India’ and as such represent the indigenous technical prowess of Indian research and development sector and reliability of products of India’s defence industry.
Tejas Trainer, on display for the first time, would also afford the opportunity of independent sorties for the Sri Lankan pilots, accompanied with the Indian pilots whilst adhering to relevant strict health guidelines, the statement said.
During the deployment, the officers from Sri Lanka Air Force and Sri Lanka Navy will also have firsthand experience onboard the Indian Navy’s Maritime Patrol Aircraft Dornier, it said.
Sri Lanka Air Force pilots and Sri Lanka Navy observers will fly along with the Indian crew. This is in continuation of the half yearly Dornier training sorties being facilitated for SLAF/SLN, it added.