Air Operations in the SLAF are conducted using air assets allocated to its flying Squadrons.
Functions and Responsibilities pertaining to Air Operations:
Deployment of Air Assets
Each squadron has a 'home' base or station. However, the SLAF maintains the flexibility of deploying air assets at very short notice at any part of the country in meeting operational requirements. The task of achieving air power in all sectors of the country is facilitated by a cluster of airfields and helipads located throughout the island.
Basic flying training is conducted at No 01 Flying Training Wing at SLAF, Anuradhapura. After completing a program of ground combat training in the hill country for six months, prospective aircrew follow a ground school phase followed by a 100 hour flying course on the PT-6 ab-initio, piston engined trainer. After completing basic flying training, cadets proceed to No 14 Squadron based at SLAF Katunayake for advanced training.
SLAF advanced training is carried out at No 14 Squadron, SLAF Katunayake. Cadets complete a comprehensive ground school phase and then do 40 hours of flying on the K-8 jet trainer. After the completion of advanced flying training a selection process takes place, and based on the results, pilots are 'fed' respectively in to jet, transport and helicopter streams.
Those selected for jets fly a further 60 hours on the K-8 before progressing for type conversions on F-7s, Kfirs or MiG 27s. Transport pilots train initially in the Y-12 aircraft and then pilots will convert to B-200, AN-32 and C-130 as they gain experience. Basic helicopter training is carried out in B206 'Jet Ranger' and Bell-212 helicopters. Operational conversions on Bell-412, Mi-17or Mi -24 will follow.
Fixed Wing Transport Operations
While the SLAF use both fixed and rotor wing transport aircraft to carry troops and cargo, fixed wing assets are based at SLAF Ratmalana and consist of Y-12 aircraft for light transport and AN-32s and C-130s for the heavy lift role.
Rotor Wing Transport Operations
The rotor wing transport role is borne by the fleet of Mi-17s belonging to No 06 Helicopter Squadron based at SLAF Vavuniya. These helicopters are also utilized for search and rescue missions when required.
Transport of VIPs / VVIPs
No 04 Squadron, which is also based at SLAF Katunayake, is equipped with Bell- 412 and Bell-412EP helicopters and is used for conveying VIPs and VVIPs.
Fixed Wing Close Air Support
The SLAF operated MiG 15s and MiG 17s in the 1970's in the attack role . After their retirement from service the SLAF did not operate jets but carried out the CAS role with turboprop attack aircraft. With intensification of the fighting in the 1990s the SLAF began to acquire the F-7, Kfir and Mig-27 jets for the attack role.
One of the most formidable attack platforms in our fleet is the Russian built Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunship. These helicopters are presently based at No 09 Attack Helicopter Squadron at SLAF Minneriya.
Air Traffic Control (ATC)
The role of ATC branch is to provide aeronautical facilities and a ground organisation in time of peace and war in order to enable Air Force aircraft to fly safely in all weather conditions with operational and tactical freedom.
The primary role of SLAF fire services is to rescue personnel in danger when aircraft or associated equipment are involved in accidents and to minimize damage to aircraft and all associated equipment as a result of fire.