Vice Chief of Indian Navy Ghormade begins visit to Sri Lanka; set to hand over Dornier aircraft

The aircraft is being provided to Sri Lanka from the inventory of the Indian Navy to help the country meet its immediate security requirement
Last Updated : 14 August 2022, 18:15 IST

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Days before a Chinese missile and satellite tracking ship docks in Sri Lanka's Hambantota port, Vice Chief of Indian Navy Vice Admiral S N Ghormade began a two-day visit to the island nation on Sunday to hand over a maritime surveillance aircraft, authoritative government sources said.

The sources told PTI that Vice Admiral Ghormade will give the Dornier aircraft to the Sri Lankan Navy at a ceremony in Colombo on Monday, which will be attended by the top military and civil brass of the island nation.

The aircraft is being provided to Sri Lanka from the inventory of the Indian Navy to help the country meet its immediate security requirement, they said.

Indian Navy has already provided extensive training to a team from Sri Lanka's Navy and the Air Force to operate the maritime surveillance aircraft.

"Sri Lanka has been a key partner of India and we will continue to expand our bilateral defence cooperation in the months and years to come," a senior official said on condition of anonymity.

The sources said Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe is set to attend the handing-over ceremony and if he does, then it will send a strategic signal about expanding strategic ties between the two countries.

The sources said India will provide to Sri Lanka two Dornier aircraft which are being manufactured by state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Once these two-HAL manufactured aircraft are handed over, then the Dornier aircraft being given on Monday will return to the Indian Navy.

The handing over of the Dornier aircraft by India comes a day before Chinese ship 'Yuan Wang 5' docks at the Southern port of Hambantota on Tuesday for a week. The ship was originally scheduled to arrive at the port on August 11 but it was delayed in absence of permission by the Sri Lankan authorities.

Sri Lanka had asked China to defer the visit amid India's concerns over it. On Saturday, Colombo granted the port access to the vessel from August 16 to 22.

There were apprehensions in New Delhi about the possibility of the vessel's tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian installations while being on its way to the Sri Lankan port.

India on Friday rejected China's "insinuations" that New Delhi pressured Colombo against the visit by the vessel to the Sri Lankan port but at the same time asserted that it will take decisions based on its security concerns.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Sri Lanka, as a sovereign country, makes its own independent decisions and noted that India would make its judgment on its security concerns based on the prevailing situation in the region.

Published 14 August 2022, 18:15 IST

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