The Air Force (SLAF) is celebrating its 70th Anniversary on 2 March and the presentation of President’s Colours to No.5 Fighter Squadron and No.6 Helicopter Squadron of the SLAF. To commemorate this historical event, a flypast and an aerobatic display are also being organised for the first time in Sri Lanka on a grand scale at Galle Face Green from 3-5 March.
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. A total of 23 aircraft of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy are set to participate in the grand event.
The detachment for the aerobatic display arrived in Colombo on 27 February, with the support of C17 Globe Master and C130J transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
The deployment of such a wide variety and huge inventory of aircraft 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.
All the Indian aircraft on display were made in India, and as such, represent the indigenous technical prowess of the Indian research and development sector and the 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 SLAF pilots, accompanied by the Indian Pilots whilst adhering to the relevant health guidelines.
During the deployment, the officers from SLAF and the Navy will also have firsthand experience onboard the Indian Navy’s maritime patrol aircraft Dornier. SLAF pilots and the Navy observers will fly along with the Indian crew. This is in continuation of the half-yearly Dornier training sorties being facilitated for SLAF and the Navy.
Sri Lanka is the ‘priority one’ partner for Indian in the sphere of defence. The assurance of India’s fullest cooperation in the fields of defence and security was recently reiterated to Sri Lanka’s leadership by the National Security Adviser of India Ajit Doval during his visit to Sri Lanka for the trilateral Maritime Security Cooperation talks amongst India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, hosted by Sri Lanka in November 2020.
The participation of IAF and Indian Navy aircraft and personnel in the 70th Anniversary celebration of SLAF is indicative of the growing cooperation, camaraderie and friendship between the armed forces of the two nations.