Flying high for seven decades | Daily News

Flying high for seven decades

As the Sri Lanka Air Force celebrates its 70th Anniversary, many events have been organised under the direction of the 18th Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana.

Addressing a media briefing at the Air Force HQ on Wednesday, the Air Force Commander said that in keeping with his pledge to improve maritime surveillance and maritime disaster management capabilities of the Air Force with the employment of cutting edge technologies to protect and preserve the resources within the EEZ, the Air Force has succeeded in acquiring two Maritime Patrol Air crafts (MPA) from two foreign countries.

Speaking to the Daily News he said that the two MPAs would be received from the USA and India. He said that the Indian MPA would be received in the near future and the US MPA would be received thereafter.

Air Marshal Pathirana also paid tribute to all the Air Force personnel, who had made the supreme sacrifice in serving the country, noting that without their dedicated service, the Air Force would not be able to achieve its current status.

“I must mention all those who have served in the Air Force in its journey. All the Air Force war heroes, who have sacrificed their lives to protect the sovereignty and integrity of this country, I take this moment to remember our fallen 443 air warriors including 43 veteran pilots and 236 wounded air warriors, who had sacrificed their tomorrow to the mother land Sri Lanka. It is because of their sacrifices that we are here today. There are 2,300 officers and around 32,000 personnel currently serving in the Air Force and they are our pillars of strength.

As per the task and role the Air Force is the guardian of the skies and for that we have to maintain our air capabilities to ensure that no external or internal threat is being influenced to Sri Lanka in the third dimension. To ensure that capability, we are maintaining our air and ground capabilities, training and all our equipment and capabilities are on standby to maintain the required core structure to maintain national security.”

On this 70th Anniversary, which falls on March 2, there are many events that have been organised, commencing on March 1. “A special Air Show has been organised on March 3, 4 and 5 at 5.00 pm at the Galle Face Green and we are fortunate that this year India has agreed to send their aerobatics teams comprising an aircraft team and a helicopter team, which will enhance the colour of the air show at Galle Face,” he noted.

The Commander invited all those who love aircrafts to come to Galle Face to witness this spectacular air show. However, the Commander noted that all those, who visit the air show should maintain social distancing and follow the health guidelines and wear masks and avoid close contact with others. He said that as it is an air show, there is no need to flock in groups and the air show could be observed, while maintaining distance.

On March 5, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be awarding the colours at the Colour Parade at the SLAF Base Katunayake for No. 5 Jet (F-7) Squadron and No. 6 Helicopter (Mi-17) Squadron.

When the new Air Force Commander assumed duties as the 18th Commander of the Air Force, he presented quadruple objectives to take the SLAF forward in the future. He noted with pride that most of the objectives are at progressive stages.

Among them is improving the attack and air support capabilities of the Air Force with prompt maintenance of the aircraft fleet and with timely new acquisitions.

Accordingly, currently the AN 32 aircraft overhaul, Kfir upgrading, UAV upgrading, Air Defence system upgrading, acquisition of training helicopters, acquisition of tactical drones and acquisition of MI 17 helicopters for UN missions are in progress.

The development of air power in order to face any natural calamity, which may occur in future and to safeguard the people and property from such calamities is currently underway with continuous training on HADR operations and training on joint operation with SL Navy and SL Army.

Details of events organized for 70th anniversary celebration

(i)March 1, 2021: Pichchamal Poojawa at the Keleniya RajamahaViharaya to obtain blessings.

(ii)March 2, 2021:

(a)Formal Air Force Day Parade at SLAF Base Katunayake.

(b)Launching of Special Commemorative Cover and Stamp for 70th anniversary.

(iii)March 3 to 5, 2021:

(a)Arrival of the Air Chiefs (USA, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India).

(b)Air Display: SLAF aircraft fly past followed by Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and Dornier aircraft fly past and IAF Sarang Helicopter Aerobatic Team display (Mar 3,4 and 5, 2021 evening in the skies above Galle Face Green).

(c)Distribution of Gift Vouchers for KIA families (NOK 357 families) ( Mar 3 to 5 Mar 21).

(iv)March 5, 2021:

(a)President’s Colour awarding parade at SLAF Base Katunayake for No. 5 Jet (F-7) Squadron and No. 6 Helicopter (Mi-17) Squadron.

(b)Launching of SLAF’s 70 years of Air Power book.

(v)March 7, 2021:Guwan Hamuda Papedi Sawariya (Men and Women/ will be briefed by Chairman, Cycling during 2nd session).

Men’s race: Colombo to Katunayake (Total 160 Km).

Women’s race: Ekala to Katunayake (Total 76 Km).

(vi)Mar 10, 2021: SLAF Flag Blessing Ceremony at the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Anuradhapura.

(vii)March 12 and 13, 2021: Adam’s Peak Cleaning Program (starting from Nallathanni and Ratnapura respectively).

(viii)March 20,21 and 26,27 - 2021: Commander's cup Rugby 7s’ Tournament (will be briefed by Chairman Rugby during 2nd session).

(ix)Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Projects:

(a)Renovation of hospitals (Base Hospital Gampaha/ Damana Rural Hospital, Ampara/ Divisional Hospital, Gomarankadawala/ Purawasakulam Hospital).

(b)Renovation of schools (Roman Catholic Primary School, Ekala/ Deaf and Blind School, Ratmalana/ Special School, Botale, Mirigama/ Weherapelessa Primary School, Weerawila / Keeriyakkulama Primary School, Anuradhapura/Kudakachchakodiya School, Vavuniya/ Alagapuri Tamil School, Iranamadu/ Completion of construction work of the half constructed Library at Keppapilavu Government Tamil Mix School, Mulativ/SiddharathaVidyalaya, China Bay/Kahambiliyawa Primary School, Hingurakgoda/ BorapolaVidyalaya, Ampara/ Valaiyaravu Methodist Mission Tamil School, Batticaloa).

(c)Donation of library books, OkkampitiyaWijayabahu Primary School, Weerawila.

(d)Drinking water facility for Walamitiyawa Primary School Galewela, Dambula.

(e)Renovation and upgrading of a ‘Prajaseva’ Office at Antonypuram, Jaffna.

(f)Manufacturing of tables and book racks for newly built library at Kalladi GS Division, Puttalam.

(g)70,000 Tree planting project by all Air force stations covering all island and 70,000 seed bombing completed by Cmd Agro Unit.

(h)Kanugahawewa Development Project at Anuradapura (Gama Samaga Pilisandara)

1. Development and Renovation of Kanugahawewa Abinawarama Temple (Completion construction work of the Dhamma School Building/ Renovation of the Bodhi Prakaraya/ Construction work of the Sangawasa Building/ Construction of the Pagoda/ Construction of a new Toilet Complex/ Construction of a Bell Tower).

2.Development and Renovation of KanugahawewaVidyalaya (Construction of a building for Teachers’ Quarters/ Construction of a school playground/ Construction of a new school building).

3.Construction of a toilet complex and Renovation of a Computer Lab at HalmillawatiyaVidyalaya.

4.Construction of a new building and renovation of the existing buildings at the village Pre School.

5.Building of an electric fence to protect the village from the elephant threat.

6.Construction of 70 houses for the homeless

1st stage - 10 houses will be constructed and handed over to owners. This stage will be completed by March 2, 2021 in line with the 70th Air Force Anniversary.

2nd stage - Fifteen houses will be constructed and handed over to owners.

3rd stage - Rest of the housing project will be completed.

(i)Medical Outreach Program at Kanugahawewa Vidyalaya ( Feb 20, 21).

2nd Session: Sports

(i)March 7, 2021:Guwan Hamuda Papedi Sawariya (Men and Women) briefing by DAO AVM MDAP Payoe(Chairmen cycling).

(ii) March 20,21 and 26,27 - 2021: Commanders’ Cup Rugby 7s’ Tournament briefing by CO SLAF StnCbo AVM A.J. Amarasinghe (Chairman Rugby).