A week-long training by Indian Navy's Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) for training of Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) pilots and Sri Lanka Navy ships for shipborne helicopter operations is now being conducted, Indian High Commission said. The ALH arrived at SLAF base Katunayake on March 23 to train SLAF pilots to get familiarise with it and provide co-pilot experience as envisioned by the then Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Karambir Singh in 2019, the High Commission added. Conducted by the visiting training team on March 25, the SAR demonstration was attended by Air Commodore Lasitha Sumanaweera, Commander of the SLAF Base Katunayake, and the training team also undertook an extensive deck landing practice onboard Sri Lanka Navy's advanced offshore patrol vessel Sayurala over the week. "The training deployment is in line with the capacity building initiative of the Government of India amongst its neighbours as part of 'Neighbourhood First Policy'. The engagement would also foster closer interoperability and seamless conduct of coordinated maritime operations," the High Commission said.
The indigenous ALH helicopter as part of the 'Sarang' Aerobatic Display Team of IAF participated during the 70th anniversary celebrations of SLAF in 2021. Over the recent years Indian military have had a series of joint training and sharing of experiences with its Sri Lankan counterpart. In the most recent major joint security ventures, on March 22 the Sri Lanka Cabinet announced signing of an MoU with regard to India-funded Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) in the Indian Ocean island nation. Built with an Indian grant of $6 million MRCC is to be built by an Indian government-owned aerospace and defense electronics company, Bharath Electronics. MRCC is to be set up inside the Sri Lanka Navy headquarters and eight other sub-units are to be positioned around the country. Under the agreement India will also provide three Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka, while the Sri Lanka Navy is to receive a 4,000 MT floating barge from India. "The high level of understanding and coordination between the Armed Forces of the two countries further cement the close relations achieved through millennia old friendly ties between the two neighbours," the Indian High Commission added.