US maritime surveillance aircraft visits Mattala Airport

US maritime surveillance aircraft visits Mattala Airport

US maritime surveillance aircraft visits Mattala Airport

Written by Lahiru Fernando

13 Dec, 2016 | 9:09 pm

P-8A Poseidon, an advanced long range surveillance aircraft departed the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport with “Red Lancers” of the Patrol Squadron TEN of the US Navy following a joint exercise with Sri Lankan armed forces on safeguarding international shipping lines.

Boeing built P-8A Poseidon is a multi-mission aircraft that provides long-range maritime patrol capabilities, making it the most advanced ocean surveillance aircraft in in its category. The Poseidon arrived in Colombo on December 4 to demonstrate its capabilities and exchange expert views on safe-guarding the international shipping lanes that are vital to global commerce, the US said in a statement.

p8-mattala-rajapaksa-international-airport-750x422-1We are pleased about the opportunity to partner with our friends in the Sri Lankan government and armed forces,” said Lt. Anthony Beres, the detachment officer in charge.

According to Boeing, P-8A Poseidon is an aircraft designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It is capable of broad-area maritime and littoral operations.

The P-8A Poseidon brings advanced capabilities to maritime safety patrols, search and rescue, counter-narcotics, and humanitarian and disaster relief efforts, and we appreciated engaging with the Sri Lankan Navy during this visit.” Beres was quoted as saying in the US Embassy Communique.

Nicknamed the “Red Lancers” the United States Navy Patrol Squadron TEN is based in Jacksonville, Florida and is equipped with the Boeing P-8A Poseidon. The squadron is currently on a routine deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific to ensure safety and security of vital sea lanes and trade routes, including integrating air and sea patrol operations. 

Both the United States and China has been proactive in assisting, training and holding joint exercises with the Sri Lanka Navy and the Air Force to learn from each other, build capacities and improve training.

With its strategic position in the busy Indian Ocean trade network, Sri Lanka is also looking to acquire better maritime patrol and surveillance capabilities for its Navy and the Air force. India and Australia already operates versions of the P-8A Poseidon for maritime surveillance and patrolling.

Experts say Sri Lanka’s aim to become a maritime hub in the Indian Ocean requires significant modernization of its Navy and the Air Force and a shift in focus to a broader security role.

The Sri Lanka Navy is due to receive several offshore patrol vessels from India and Japan and other friendly countries.

The Sri Lanka Air Force also needs to fill a gap in maritime surveillance, search and rescue capabilities to effectively carryout missions that fall within its area of responsibility.

By – Charitha Fernando

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