Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force, arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport on May 1, 2023, on a four-day official visit to Sri Lanka at the invitation of Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force. Air Vice Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa, Chief of Staff, Sri Lanka Air Force, and Deputy High Commissioner of India, Mr. Vinod K. Jacob, warmly welcomed Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on his arrival. During the visit, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari is scheduled to make courtesy calls on President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and have meetings with the Minister of State for Defence, the Defence Secretary, the Chief of Defence Staff, and service commanders.
The visit symbolizes strong relations and close cooperation between the two friendly neighbours, with Sri Lanka being accorded the status of ‘Priority One’ partner by India. Underlining the strong bonds of friendship between the two services, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari would be laying the foundation stone for the India-Sri Lanka Friendship Auditorium at Sri Lanka Air Force Academy, Trincomalee, under 250 million LKR grant assistance by the Government of India (GOI), in line with India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
As part of the GOI’s commitment towards capacity building of Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces, the Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force would be presenting AN-32 propellers to ensure high operational readiness of the aircraft held with the Sri Lanka Air Force. He would also be interacting with students at the prestigious National Defence College in Sri Lanka and the Air Force Academy in China Bay, where training aids for the students would be gifted.
It may be recalled that in February 2021, at the invitation of the Commander, Sri Lanka Air Force, a twenty-two aircraft contingent of the Indian Air Force participated in the 70th-anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Air Force. In addition, the Indian Air Force has been the first responder by deploying its assets expeditiously to provide 12 t of medical supplies in May 2020 and 100 t of nano fertilizers in November 2021. The visit of the Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force, would strengthen the existing relations between the two countries, facilitate discussions on common security challenges, and enhance capacity and capability-building initiatives towards ensuring security and growth for all in the region (SAGAR), as propounded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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