India on Wednesday handed over to Sri Lanka a substitute for a Dornier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft, reaffirming its security ties with Colombo and bolstering the island nation's surveillance capabilities. The originally gifted Dornier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft is currently undergoing yearly maintenance in India.

In a statement, President Ranil Wickremesinghe's office said that the aircraft was handed over to Sri Lanka by India at a ceremony held at the Sri Lanka Air Force Base in Katunayake.

During the bilateral security discussions that transpired between India and Sri Lanka on January 9, 2018, in New Delhi, the potential acquisition of maritime surveillance aircraft akin to the Dornier type from India was brought to attention. The aim was to bolster Sri Lanka's capabilities in maritime surveillance, the statement said.

"In response to Sri Lanka's request, the Indian government took proactive measures during these deliberations. They decided to provide a Donier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft, which was part of the Indian Navy's fleet, to Sri Lanka free of cost for a span of two years," it added.

Upon its delivery, the Donier-228 aircraft was instrumental in performing specialized tasks within Sri Lanka over the past year. Subsequently, it underwent mandatory annual maintenance services in India.

Since its initial arrival in Sri Lanka, the Donier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft has significantly contributed to numerous operations. These encompass a spectrum of activities such as monitoring and safeguarding Sri Lanka's airspace and exclusive economic zone through maritime and coastal surveillance operations, executing search and rescue missions, and monitoring and controlling maritime pollution. The official handover of the successor aircraft to Sri Lanka was attended by a delegation representing the Sri Lankan Government. The delegation included Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Presidential Chief of Staff Mr Sagala Ratnayaka, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay and Secretary to the Ministry of Defence General Kamal Gunaratne (Rtd) and other officials.

"It is not only with this aircraft that we have received India's assistance. It's been a longstanding relationship, but in more recent times, when we were going through the economic crisis, India stepped up beyond the call of duty to lend us a hand," Ratnayaka said on the occasion.