Sri Lanka received its first maritime reconnaissance aircraft from India on Monday ahead of the arrival of a Chinese research vessel in the country’s south, whose presence in the region is a matter of concern to Washington and New Delhi.
The Sri Lankan Presidency announced that an Indian Navy Dornier 228 aircraft had arrived at the main international airport near Colombo, where it was received by President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
“The security of India and Sri Lanka is strengthened through mutual understanding, mutual trust and cooperation,” said Indian High Commissioner Gopal Bagle, adding: “The gift of Dornier 228 is India’s new contribution to this cause.”
The aircraft, equipped with equipment to track and jam electronic signals, was delivered on the eve of the docking of the Chinese ship Yuan Wang 5 in the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, which is operated by a Chinese company located in the south of the island.
The Chinese ship was due to arrive in Sri Lanka last Thursday, but Colombo asked China to postpone the visit after New Delhi objected.
According to Indian media reports, New Delhi fears that China could use the ship to spy on its activities. According to official sources, these concerns are shared by Washington and New Delhi.
But Colombo reversed its position on Saturday and announced that it had allowed the ship to dock at the port of Hambantota on Tuesday and remain there for six days.
However, the vessel must not disable the automatic identification system while in the Sri Lankan Exclusive Economic Zone and is not permitted to conduct scientific research in Sri Lankan waters.