The first ever Indian Naval Dornier has been inducted to Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Fleet today in a ceremonial procession under the supervision by Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana at SLAF Base Katunayake as a way forward of the comradeship with neighboring India. The event was held under the auspices of the chief guest Chief of the Armed Forces and the President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe and the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, His Excellency Gopal Baglay. After arriving to its new home, the Sri Lankan President and the Indian High Commissioner were accompanied to inspect the interior of the aircraft by Commander of the Air Force. Afterwards, the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana commenced proceedings with the welcome address where insisted that major event today unfold a new chapter in the defence cooperation of both nations specifically drawing attention to the maritime security while thanking Government of India and Indian Navy.
The ceremony was commenced after the arrival of the chief guest, who was welcomed by the Commander of the Air Force at the entrance and accorded a ceremonial guard of honour by No. 43 SLAF Colour Wing at No. 02 Heavy Transport Squadron premises. After the arrival of the dignitaries the newly inducted Dornier-228 has presented its maiden salute to the Chief Guest and gradually arrived to the apron at No.02 Heavy Transport Squadron premises which was welcomed with water cannon salute forming a beautiful arc of cascading water for the aircraft to go under. This signifies the wonderful tradition in the aviation industry where an aircraft is sprayed with water as a ceremonial and symbolic gesture to honour military veterans, foreign dignitaries and even aircraft that are retiring. It also signifies the beginning of a new life for an aircraft as is the case of this Dornier 228 and the salute is a sign of honour, respect and gratitude.
The High Commissioner of India then addressed the distinguished gathering where he spoke of the long standing close relationship between India and Sri Lanka which spans throughout history and induction today is a symbol of deep cooperation of two countries. In conclusion, the President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Hon. Ranil Wickramasinghe addressed the occasion where he thanked the Government of India and Indian Navy on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, for their continues support to the Sri Lankan military to sustain the National Security in Sri Lankan territory. In addition, the President stressed the importance of the commitment to further strengthen the relationship. Then Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana presented miniature of the Dornier aircraft to the Chief Guest, Indian High Commissioner, Vice Chief of Staff of Indian Navy and other distinguished dignitaries to symbolize the appreciation in particular to the generosity of the Government of India and the Indian Navy. The ceremony was attended by Chief of Staff of the President’s Office and Senior Presidential Advisor on National Security, Mr Sagala Rathnayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, General Kamal Guneratne (Retd), Chief of Defence Staff, General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Vikum Liyanage, Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne.
The newly inducted Indian Naval Dornier (INDO – 228) is a Short Take Off and Landing (STOL), multirole light transport aircraft with a turboprop twin-engine, produced since 1981. Dornier GmbH of Germany being the Original Equipment Manufacturer built 245 aircraft during the period of 1981-1998. Subsequently, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has been engaged in the production of Dornier aircraft, under the license of Dornier GmbH since 1993. The aircraft will be executed its tour of duty only by qualified Dornier crew of SLAF and maintained by qualified technicians of SLAF under the supervision of Indian technical team comprising of engineering officers and technicians. The SLAF intends to effectively employ the Dornier aircraft specifically to conduct Maritime and Coastal Surveillance Operations within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Search and Rescue Operations (SAR), Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) and Maritime Pollution Monitoring and Control within Sri Lankan Search and Rescue Region (SRR) to attain SLAF ultimate vision of “Ensuring the National Security through Effective Employment of Airpower” within Sri Lankan Airspace.