India offers joint air-defence exercise to Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Thursday, 20 December 2007, 16:46 GMT]
The top-level visiting Indian defence delegation to Sri Lanka to review the ongoing bilateral defence cooperation has offered assistance in the form of "joint air-defence exercises" to face any threats posed by the aerial capability of the Tigers, according to highly placed sources in Colombo. Indian Defence Secretary Vijay Singh who called on Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in Colombo early this week has made the offer. The delegation arrived in Colombo last Sunday and left the island Wednesday after meeting with the Commanders of the Sri Lankan Army, Air Force and Navy.

Sri Lanka, which has already got radar equipments from the U.S and air-defence support from Pakistan and other countries, has reportedly informed the visiting Indian delegation that the offer on joint air-defence exercises would be taken up for discussion at the National Security Council, comprising SLA, SLN and SLAF commanders.

The eight-member Indian delegation, comprising several top officials from the Indian Defence and External Affairs ministries, had told Sri Lanka that India was concerned since the LTTE now had its own air wing.

Meanwhile, Indian media reports Wednesday said that in the backdrop of India's expanding sphere of control, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to regularize tri-service exercises in the peninsula. The shift in focus has ensured that the southern air command of the IAF (headquartered at Thiruvananthapuram) gains prominence and is kept "fighting fit." There is also a reported move to improve the readiness of air bases in the region and they are being adapted to handle more types of aircraft. More assets are also being moved to cover gaps in the radar coverage.

Two weeks ago, the IAF conducted its largest-ever war exercise in south India involving the Army, Air Force and Navy. An official statement by the IAF detailed the use of French-made Mirage-2000s, Russian-built Su-30s, Mi-8 helicopters and unmanned aircraft in the exercise.



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