The Colombo Air Symposium–2017 organised by the Sri Lanka Air Force commenced at Ratmalana yesterday morning under the patronage of State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene and Defence Ministry Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne, PC. Members of the Diplomatic Corps and senior military officials were also present. Picture by Gayan Pushpika

Geo-strategic location makes Sri Lanka vulnerable

Joint Naval command with Air Force proposed

The present threats emanating from the Indian Ocean due to Sri Lanka’s geostrategic location has called for the establishment of a Naval-Air Force Wing to secure our waters with greater surveillance and striking capabilities, Defence Secretary Kapila Waidyaratne said yesterday.

He also proposed that a Joint Naval Command with the Air Force be set up with a Joint Communication Network with air and maritime capabilities.

Such a network, Defence Secretary Waidyaratne said will go “hand in hand with Air Force intelligence and reconnaissance services which will be modernised to better improve maritime domain awareness”.

“This would also lead to a better centralised command and control of the intelligence structure to develop and enhance situational applications,” he added.

“Being a strategically located island, Sri Lanka is well aware of its significant position in a world influenced by maritime geopolitics,” the Defence Secretary said.

The Defence Secretary was delivering the keynote address at the Third Colombo Air Symposium on ‘Air Power in Addressing Asymmetric Threats’ at the Eagle Lakeside Convention Hall in Atthidiya.

The Sri Lankan Air Force which engaged in asymmetric warfare during the Eelam war has found that it can be of significant use in assisting the Navy through its greater reach, speed and ability to garner important intelligence not directly available to a naval force.

“It is due to this that the government believes that we should develop air capabilities both in traditional and non-traditional spheres. Sri Lanka was once lagging behind its regional peers, in research and development, both in civil and military developments but this will is soon expected to change with such forums and I hope the Air force will gain knowledge to become regional leader in air capabilities”, Waidyaratne added.

On the part of the government, the Secretary Defence said they had supplied the Naval-Air Force Wing with Unmanned Aircraft (UAV) and stressed that the SLAF stay abreast of the latest in the field of technology and that asymmetric plans be constantly modified. The UAV’s which were effectively used against the LTTE were indigenised and further developed by the SLAF during the war and the Defence Secretary said they would work on further developing research on these crafts, “UAV aircraft will be leading future air battles and surveillance,” Waidyaratne said.

He added these developments in security would also be used for benefit of the public in future.

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