Indian Air Force
) will be sending its
as well as the Tejas to participate in the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF). The SLAF has already published a brochure on how the Tejas fighters, Surya Kiran and Sarang aerobatic teams will participate in the celebrations named 'Galle Face' for three days from March 3.
The SLAF now flies Israeli Kfir fighters and Chengdu F-7s that are Chinese variants of the Mig-21, apart from US-built transport aircraft like the C-130 Hercules. According to a release by the IAF, the LCA Tejas, Surya Kirans and Sarangs (comprising Dhruv helicopters) reached
on Saturday to participate in the event.
"The IAF aircraft are there on an invitation from
Sudarshana Pathirana, commander, SLAF. The two air forces have seen active interactions and exchanges over for a number of years. Participation of our assets in Galle Face is manifestation of the strong professional bonds that the two air forces share. In 2001, our Surya Kiran team had participated in the 50th anniversary of the SLAF," an official said.
The Hambantota Port has always been a matter of concern for India. Developed with Chinese funds, Sri Lanka was forced to hand it over to the Chinese in 2017 on a 99-year lease after it failed to repay. The Chinese, after taking over, even ordered the
Sri Lankan Navy
to vacate a part of the premises. On Saturday, Sri Lankan foreign minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that the deal with the Chinese could actually extend to another 99 years after the existing lease.
India has been extremely concerned with the Chinese setting up this port in the IOR that would allow assets of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to operate freely in the region, barely a few nautical miles from Indian territorial waters. The Chinese, on the other hand have always maintained that it requires such bases in the IOR as nearly 80% of its oil requirements arrive along that route.