r Ministry of Defence - Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Air Force proudly celebrates 72 years of legacy

March 02, 2023

In the seven decades that ensued since inception, 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 made by a humble Chipmunk and de Havilland DC 1, and later followed by Mig 27s, Kfir C7s, and F-7s of today. Many other aircraft have also seen the largely ceremonial air force of the 70s emerge to become a successful and battle-hardened modern 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 designated as the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) with Ceylon becoming a Republic. In keeping with its slogan "Surakimu Lakambara," the Sri Lanka Air Force has been able to accomplish its duty to the country for the past 72 years.

The SLAF has consistently protected the airfields in the island and actively assisted the people in times of great urgency. Its role during the COVID-19 pandemic and numerous natural disasters has taken it closer to the hearts of the people, who remember it for bringing them much-needed relief in times of distress, developing infrastructure in the health sector and assisting the national vaccination drive.

Sri Lanka has a considerably large Exclusive Economic Zone when compared to its land mass. Therefore, the SLAF has successfully deployed its air asset to protect this vast area from illegal intrusion, unregulated and illegal fishing activities, extinguishing fire onboard maritime vessels, conducting Search and Rescue Operations, Maritime Pollution Monitoring and Control within the Sri Lanka Search and Rescue Region.

The SLAF continues to perform its duties as a proud force with a professional, competent and diligent approach, contributing to national efforts particularly to nation-building projects while using humane and cutting-edge technological advancements. The vesting of Kanugahawewa Model Village for the public, Paddy Harvesting Project, and the Organic Fertilizer Production Projects are prominent in showcasing the SLAF’s unique contribution to the nation-building efforts.

Another unique and enormously successful project of the SLAF is Aerial Seed Bombing, which is carried out 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 from 27% to 32% by the year 2030.

The SLAF has undertaken and completed many Research & Development projects for the betterment of the country. It has developed its own Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the Lihiniya MK-1E which accomplished its greatest milestone yet by flying further and longer than before; displaying the project's successful development. Another important achievement is the repair and maintenance work of SLAF’s aircraft being carried out at the Air Force Engineering Wings in Base Katunayake, saving considerable amounts of valuable outflow of foreign exchange.

The Sri Lanka Air Force is always ready to adopt emerging technological advancements of the modern world in order hone its technical abilities and showcase its skills and superiority in the air as well as on ground. In the face of all odds, the Sri Lanka Air Force is geared to face and overcome any threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country through the effective deployment of its Airpower.

Courtesy - SLAF Media