IAF chief visits Colombo to mark Sri Lankan Air Force’s 70th anniversary

IAF chief visits Colombo to mark Sri Lankan Air Force’s 70th anniversary

Indian Air Force Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria arrived at Colombo on Wednesday to attend the 70th-anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF).

As part of his two-day visit, the IAF chief attended the inaugural ceremony on March 3 during which a flypast and aerobatic display were scheduled. "The air show at Galle Face, Colombo also saw participation by an IAF contingent comprising Suryakiran and Sarang aerobatic display teams and Tejas LCA," said an IAF statement.

The participation of Tejas is significant as India is looking at the fighter jet as a potential export option. India has listed out 156 defence equipment that has been cleared for exports which include the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, artillery guns, battle tanks and missiles, anti-tank mines, and explosives.

The exhaustive list includes 19 aeronautical systems, 41 armament, and combat systems, 4 missile systems, 27 electronic and communication systems, 10 life protection items, 4 microelectronic devices, 28 naval systems, 16 Nuclear Biological Chemical equipment NBC and 7 other material. Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy participated in the 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 aircrafts of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy are participating in the event. The detachment for the Aerobatic Display arrived in Colombo on February 27, 2021, with the support of C17 Globe Master and C130J transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

“The deployment of such wide variety and a 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,” the Indian government said.

Tejas Trainer, on display for the first time, afforded the opportunity of independent sorties for the Sri Lanka Air Force Pilots, accompanied by the Indian Pilots.

The officers from Sri Lanka Air Force and Sri Lanka Navy also had firsthand experience onboard the Indian Navy’s Maritime Patrol Aircraft Dornier. “SLAF pilots and Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) observers will fly along with the Indian crew. This is in continuation of the half-yearly Dornier training sorties being facilitated for SLAF and SLN.

Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria will also interact with various dignitaries and the heads of Services of the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka during his two-day visit. “The visit will further strengthen the existing cooperative process and open up newer avenues of mutual interest,” the IAF said in a statement.

“IAF & SLAF have seen active exchanges and interactions for a number of years in diverse fields like training, operational exchanges, and through professional military education courses,” it added.

The IAF Suryakiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) had earlier toured Sri Lanka in 2001 for the 50th-anniversary celebrations of SLAF. As the IAF aircraft takes to the skies of Colombo once again, they will script another significant chapter in the traditionally strong IAF-SLAF ties, the IAF said.

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