Written by Zulfick Farzan
21 Feb, 2022 | 2:52 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st); According to a request made by present Commander of Air Force, Air Marshal Sudharshana Pathirana after assuming duties at the office for a dedicated maritime surveillance aircraft on Gratis basis (with relevant surveillance equipment onboard), United States (US) government has agreed to provide Qty 02 maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) under Foreign Military Sales Contract in strengthening the maritime surveillance capability in Sri Lankan Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to ensure the maritime security in the region.
SLAF requested Beechcraft 360ER twin-turboprop aircraft produced by Textron Aviation which is a light transport aircraft certified by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in United States and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
SLAF has been operating Beechcraft B-200 aircraft over period of decades which is earlier versions of Beechcraft family, has accumulated ample experiences on operational and maintenance aspects.
The established operational and maintenance capabilities are one of main advantage that SLAF possesses in future operation of new B-360ER aircraft.
These two (2) maritime surveillance aircraft (Beechcraft 360ER) would be delivered in term of 100% free grant (Free of Charge) from government of US to Sri Lankan government through Foreign Military Sales Contract to be operated by SLAF.
These aircraft will be deployed for the maritime surveillance operations which is a demanding requirement in present day context that was heavily urged for respond maritime disasters (Ex: MT New Diamond and X Press Pearl), assisting deep sea rescue missions, monitor illegal fishing activities and to assist Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) in combating transnational crimes including human smuggling as well as drug trafficking in EEZ.
This aircraft will be incorporated next generation technologies that enhance the operational capabilities and state-of art surveillance equipment worth of millions will be provided along with aircraft FOC basis which is an invaluable contribution in terms of funds as a result of long term discussions between the Commander of Air Force and US Embassy in Sri Lanka. This will enhance the maritime surveillance capability of SLAF in Indian Ocean region.
Textron Aviation Inc., Wichita, Kansas was awarded the total contract by US Department of Defence (DOD) and the first aircraft will be delivered in late 2022 or early 2023 to SLAF. The project will be completed in September 2025 after delivery of second aircraft as confirmed by US DOD.
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