Sri Lanka Air Force Proudly Joins the 71st National Day Celebrations

Published on: 4:49pm on Monday 4th February 2019
Sri Lanka Air Force Proudly Joins the 71st National Day Celebrations
Dressed in their Ceremonial finery, the participants of the 71st National Day Parade, comprising members of the Armed Forces, the Police and a multitude of others, bustled about the Galle Face Green at the crack of dawn, making their way to their positions, in preparation for the parade of the year, the 71st National Day Parade. 

The arrival of the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena and Mrs. Sirisena marked the beginning of the National Day Parade.  The beating of the traditional Magul Bera and the blowing of the Conch Shells, heralded the hoisting of the “Lion Flag” by the President. The President was thereafter conducted by the Chief of Defence Staff, Tri-Forces Commanders and Inspector General of Police to the special dais where 25 school girls recited “Jayamangala Gatha and Devo Vassatu Kalena” to invoke the blessings of the noble Triple Gem on the Nation. Following this, all who made the supreme sacrifice in the name of Sri Lanka, were honoured with two minutes of silence.

The Tri-Forces Guard of Honour accorded the Presidential Salute to the Commander in Chief which was followed by a 21 Gun salute by the SL Army. His Excellency the President then delivered his address to the nation.

Following the address, the Parade Commander was seen obtaining permission from the Commander in Chief to conduct the 71st National Day March Past. This year’s parade comprised 162 Army Officers, 3710 Army Other Ranks, 36 Navy Officers, 997 Navy Other Ranks, 49 SLAF Officers, 743 Airmen and 103 Airwomen. Following the Tri-Forces procession the Sri Lanka Police, Civil Defence Department and the National Cadet Corps accorded their salute to His Excellency the President.

Air Commodore RS Wickramaratne represented the Sri Lanka Air Force as Overall Parade Commander. The SLAF parade comprising five Squadrons was commanded by Wing Commander Jayarathne Amarasinghe. The first squadron was commanded by Squadron Leader Asela Vithana, the second squadron by Squadron Leader Sumith Priyankara while the third squadron which was made up of Airwomen and was commanded by Squadron Leader Gayathri Ekanayake.

The fourth squadron made up of Special Air Borne Force troops was commanded by the Commanding Officer of the Special Air Borne Force, Wing Commander Chaminda Herath while the Regiment Special Forces Squadron marched under the leadership of Squadron Leader Sumith Bandara. For the first time in the history of Sri Lanka and the Tri-Forces, a Lady Officer and Airwomen marched shoulder to shoulder with the Airmen as part of the Special Air Borne Force Squadron at today’s parade.

Under the guidance of the Director Air Operations, Air Vice Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, Air Vice Marshal Prasanna Payoe functioned as the Overall Coordinator of the SLAF Aerial Display which proudly showcased the Air Power of the Sri Lanka Air Force at the 71st National Day celebrations. The aerial display commenced with the thundering sound of a Kfir speeding through the skies above the Galle Face at low altitude. The display comprised of 33 Aircraft including  three Bell 212 Helicopters, two Bell 412 Helicopters, four MI 17 Helicopters, five Cessna 150, five PT-6, four Y-12, two B-200 Beechcraft Super King Air, one C-130, one AN-32, one MA-60, three K-8s, one Kfir and three F 7 aircraft. The newly established “Blue Eagles” Aerobatics Team returned to the skies above the Galle Face Ground from the horizon and performed a five ship formation break off in front of their Commander in Chief marking the end the Air Force Aerial Display.

The Mechanized Column of the Sri Lanka Air Force was led by Wing Commander Krishantha Perera and the column was made up of Searcher Mark II UAV, an Indra Mark II Air Defence Radar System, 40 mm L-70 Air Defence Gun exhibit, IGLA SAM Surface to Air Missile exhibit, Aircraft Ordnance Exhibit vehicle and Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive Device Response Squadron Exhibit Vehicle.

The Air Force Mechanized Column concluded with riders of the Special Air Borne Force according their salute to their Commander in Chief. This is the first appearance of SABF Riders at a National Day Parade. Under the leadership of the present Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy and for the first time in the history of the Tri-Forces Airwomen of the SABF participated as part of the Rider Team.

To the amazement of the distinguished gathering an MI-17 Helicopter flew at very low altitude along with the Mechanized Column of the Air Force with 8 Regimental Special Force Troops suspended by a sky rope displaying the SLAF’s ability to reach troops or people in distress in areas which cannot be reached by land or sea or even when an aircraft cannot be landed.

The SLAF Paratroopers also displayed their breath taking abilities along with their counterparts from the Army, Navy and the Police.

Wing Commander Sanath Fanando, Squadron Leader Nalin Wewakumbura, Squadron Leader Eric Adikaram, Squadron Leader Chanaka Maligaspe and Flight Lieutenant Eranga Gamage handled the Air Traffic Control of all events related to aircraft which participated at the 71st National Day Celebrations.
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