(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – In the seven decades that ensued, the Sri Lanka Air Force has come under the leadership of 17 commanders. Today, its leadership is in the able hands of its 18th Commander, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana. The Sri Lanka Air Force has come a long way since its first flight in a humble Chipmunk and de Havilland DC 1, passing through Mig 27s, Kfir C7s, and F-7s today. Many other aircraft have seen the largely ceremonial air force of the 70s emerge as a successful and battle-hardened air force of the 21st century.
The Royal Ceylon Air Force was formed on 02 March 1951, heralding the dawn of Sri Lanka’s age of military air power. On 02 March 1972, the Royal Ceylon Air Force was redesignated as the Sri Lanka Air Force with Ceylon becoming a republic. Following the slogan “Surakimu Lakambara,” the Sri Lanka Air Force has been able to accomplish its duty for the country for the past 72 years.
The Sri Lanka Air Force has consistently secured the airfields on the island and actively assisted the people in their time of need. Its role during the COVID-19 crisis and numerous other natural disasters has taken it close to the hearts of the people of Sri Lanka, who remember it for bringing them much-needed relief in times of trouble by developing infrastructure in the health sector and assisting with the public vaccination drive.
Moving beyond Sri Lanka, the country is the proud owner of an extremely large Exclusive Economic Zone. Therefore, the SLAF successfully deployed the air asset to protect this vast area from illegal intrusion and fishing activities, extinguishing the fire in maritime vessels, and conducting Search and Rescue Operations, Maritime Pollution Monitoring and Control within the Sri Lanka Search and Rescue Region.
The SLAF has also continued to perform its duties as a proud force with a professional, competent and diligent approach, contributing particularly to nation-building projects while using humane and cutting-edge technological advancements. The Vesting Kanugahawewa Model Village for the public, the Paddy Harvesting Projects, and the numerous CSR Projects provide prominence in showcasing the SLAF’s unique contribution to the nation-building efforts. Another enormously successful revolution is aerial seed bombing, which continues on a large scale. These seed-bombing missions are the attempt of the Sri Lanka Air Force to contribute to the reforestation efforts of the government to reach the sustainable development goals of the country by increasing the forest cover. Another fact is that SLAF shines through in the many Research & Development projects that have been undertaken and completed for the betterment of the country. Sri Lanka Air Force has developed its own Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the Lihiniya MK-1E which accomplished its greatest milestone yet by flying further and longer than before, proving that the project’s development is well underway. Aircraft owned by the Sri Lanka Air Force carry out the repair and maintenance work in the Air Force Engineering Wings at Base Katunayake, thus our country has been able to save a lot of foreign exchange.
The Sri Lanka Air Force was always ready to conquer the new technological methods of the developing world as a force armed with technical knowledge and showing its skills in the air as well as on the ground. In the face of all odds, the Sri Lanka Air Force is geared to face and overcome any threat to sovereignty and territorial integrity through the effective employment of Airpower.