In the fourth edition of the CAS – 2018, its thematic approach, “Air Strategy in substantiating the Geo-strategic Importance of Sri Lanka” highlighted the challenges and opportunities that ensue from the unique geographical location of Sri Lanka and the dynamic developments of the present geopolitical context in the region. The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean in the world that contains of 38 littoral states, 27 ocean territories and 17 interior countries provides the sea passage for more than 50% of the world’s containerized cargo and two third of the world’s hydrocarbon shipments. Although Sri Lanka is an Island Nation which is confined to a land area of 65,610 square kilometres and to a few islets which are merely embossed on the vast Indian Ocean, the country claims the close proximity to main sea lines of communications and marine transportation. The 200 Nautical miles long Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) plus 200 nautical miles long Exclusive Fishing Zone and the intensified economic activities in the Indian Ocean Region makes the Island a “super-connector” in the Asia. Against such a backdrop, the contemporary geo-political cross currents active in the region compel the nations to restructure the conventional and orthodox international relationship models in to more flexible and diplomatic mechanisms in order to maintain the status quo and achieve the mutual interests of the nations. The non-aligned motives of Sri Lanka have established a tested base of goodwill between the countries and the global powers as well the neighbouring nations of Asia and in the greater Indian Ocean Region. In addition, the country’s commitment to global peace initiatives through the United Nations and the active negotiations on the conventions and laws related to global sea territories depict the positive approach of Sri Lanka towards coining collaborative solutions for a better future.

            In the light of regional and global development, the government of Sri Lanka has embarked on a mission to leverage the unique location of the country in the air and nautical corridor between the East and the West, and to transform it in to an exclusive hub of economic action and a key transhipment hub for the Bay of Bengal trade with the maximized relationships with the regional and extra regional players. In order to sustain the peaceful air and maritime environment, air power with its ever-evolving paradigm, is an indispensable instrument in addressing the emerging critical issues such as: antipiracy, counter-terrorism operations, fighting drug and human trafficking and providing safe passage for the sea trade lines among of the IOR and its centre of gravity. For instance, such a collaborative approach includes the national security, combined counter terrorism operations, provision of emergency relief, safety and security of marine cargo, preparedness and first respondent responsibilities in managing disasters and the cooperative CASEVAC and MEDIVAC operations in the crisis situations. The role of air power in maritime security of the Indian Ocean through strategic maritime partnership to develop collaborative approaches, defence and security of the regional waters and smart application of air power are widely discussed and emphasized in many international dialogues.

            The Colombo Air Symposium 2018 has made a remarkable academic ripple within the scholarly and the research and presentations of the representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, India, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan Sri Lanka and USA on the Air Strategy in Substantiating the Geo-strategic Importance of Sri Lanka made it profound success.