(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – The United States government has agreed to provide two maritime surveillance aircraft with surveillance equipment to the Sri Lanka Air Force, free of charge under a foreign military sales contract to ensure maritime security in the region and to strengthen maritime surveillance capabilities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Sri Lanka.
The aircraft are provided in response to a request made by the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudharshana Pathirana, Sri Lanka Air Force Spokesman said.
SLAF has requested Beechcraft 360ER twin-turboprop aircraft produced by Textron Aviation which is a light transport aircraft certified by United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), he said.
This free grant is the result of lengthy discussions between the Commander of the Air Force and Diplomatic Officers of the US Embassy in Sri Lanka and expected to enhance the Sri Lanka Air Force’s air surveillance capability in the Indian Ocean region.
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, according to the SLAF Spokesman.
These two maritime reconnaissance aircraft (Beechcraft 360ER) are provided to the Government of Sri Lanka by the United States Government free of charge.
These aircraft will be deployed for maritime surveillance operations, to respond to maritime disasters (e.g. MT New Diamond and X Press Pearl), assist in deep sea rescue operations, monitor illegal fishing activities, and assist the Sri Lanka Navy in monitoring illegal fishing activities and launching operations against international crimes including human trafficking as well as drug trafficking in the Special Economic Zone.
The Textron Aviation Inc., Wichita, Kansas has been awarded an $11,444,058 firm-fixed-price contract to manufacture the Beechcraft King Air 360ER aircraft by the US Department of Defense and the first aircraft will be awarded to the Sri Lanka Air Force in late 2022 or early 2023.
The project is scheduled for completion in September 2025, with the awarding of a second aircraft, as confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to Textron Aviation Work will be performed in Wichita, Kansas, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 26, 2025. Fiscal 2022 Foreign Military Sales (Sri Lanka) funds in the amount of $11,444,058 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.