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New Chinese planes for Sri Lanka’s air force

The Sri Lankan air force has completed the purchase of two new Chinese built planes, as military spending continues, and the island continues to be plagued by militarisation.

A ceremony at a Sri Lankan air force base this week saw the induction of two Harbin Y-12 IV aircraft with the presence of Qi Zhenhong, China’s ambassador to Sri Lanka, and several Sri Lankan military officials accused of war crimes.

Amongst the many Sri Lankan officials present were Kamal Gunaratne and Shavendra Silva.

The two new aircraft will be added to the air force fleet, with Y-12s having been in operation with the Sri Lanka Air Force since 1986.

The Sri Lanka Air Force initiated preparations to purchase the aircraft in 2017 and a contract was signed on 16 December 2019 between Colombo and the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation to provide the aircraft.

Throughout the years, Beijing has sold vast amounts of military hardware to Sri Lanka and continues to hold close defence ties.

The new purchase comes as Sri Lanka’s economic crisis continues, with military spending still dominating the government budget.

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