Welcome to Sri Lanka Air Force 66th Anniversary

66 Years At A Glance

With the end of the Second World War, British troops continued to be deployed in Ceylon. On 11th November 1947, Ceylon entered the 'Defence and External Affairs Agreement' with the British Government. The agreement included that the United Kingdom will provide military assistance for the purpose of training and developing the Ceylon armed forces. After independence, realizing a requirement to setup an indigenous Air Force, on 9th August 1949, the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence & External Affairs, Mr. RG Senanayake presented in the House of Representatives a bill which provided for the raising and maintaining of an Air Force and for matters connected therewith. Subsequently, with the Act being passed on 03rd October 1949, the said force was named 'Ceylon Air Force'.


1951 On the 2nd March 1951 the Ceylon Air Force was established. The Ceylonese government requested and received on secondment, Group Captain Graham Clerke Bladon from the RAF to organize the Ceylon Air Force through its formative years.

Amongst the first Ceylonese nationals to be recruited as Officers were Sqn Ldr ER Amarasekara, who had been in active service with the RAF during World War
II, Flt Lt RDB Janson who had served in the RAF as a Senior Technical Staff Officer and Flt Lt K Nagarajah who was a Captain In the Royal Army Service Corps.

On 08th August 1951, D De S Senavirathne and PH Mendis were recruited as AC2 (Cadet) to the Ceylon Air Force and were sent to RAF College, Cranwell. The first Batch of Officer Cadets to be trained locally comprised I De Abrew, LB Tissa, R Varatharasa, C Chelvarajan, M Phoebus, D Nicolle, DC Perera, R Vivekananthan,WDHSW Goonethilleke and Jayasena underwent training in Katunayake. The first aircraft of the Ceylon Air Force, a batch of 4 Chipmunks arrived the same year.


1952 Five more Chipmunks arrived. The Medical Branch, the Education Unit and the Works Services element were formed and the first Officers in charge of the respective units were Flt Lt Ismail, Flt Lt PG Walpita and Flt Lt Maharoof.



Flying Wing for the Ceylon Air Force was established at RAF Station Katunayake. The last batch of Chipmunks also arrived in 1953 and the aircraft inventory was broadened with the delivery of three Airspeed Oxford aircraft received for training.



On 24th March 1954, amendments were made to the Air Force Act in accordance with the warrant granted by the King of England to name the 'Ceylon Air Force' as 'Royal Ceylon Air Force', hence the Amendment Act No. 21 of 1954 was made and officially the Air Force of Ceylon was named as 'Royal Ceylon Air Force' (RCyAF). The RCyAF took delivery of 12 Boulton Paul Balliol, heralding the commencement of advanced flying training.


The first batch of De Havilland Dove aircraft and four Prestwick Pioneers were inducted. Further, the RCyAF saw the entry of helicopters for the first time, when two S-51 Westland Dragonfly Helicopters were purchased in the same year.


On 01st November 1957, RAF Negombo was ceremonially handed over to the RCyAF. Even though the RAF stations came under the control of the Ceylonese government, the RAF was not completely out of Ceylon till 1960. They withdrew their aircraft in 1959


rol of the Ceylonese government, the RAF was not completely out of Ceylon till 1960. They withdrew their aircraft in 1959 1958


RCyAF Officers departed to UK in a RCyAF Dove aircraft, to ferry back two De Havilland Heron aircraft. This ferry flight was the first in the history of the RCyAF. The RCyAF's first encounter with jet aircraft also came in 1959 with the arrival of twelve Hunting Percival Jet Provost aircraft.


The initially established Flying Wing was dissolved and NO.1 Squadron with the Chipmunks and Balliols, carried out flying training and NO.2 Squadron with the Oxfords, Doves, Pioneers and Dragonfly Helicopters were established for operational flying.The Regiment Squadron was formed under Fit Lt GW Weeraratne to provide ceremonial Guards of Honor, ceremonial street linings etc and to provide security for Bases and airfields of the Air Force.


The RCyAF celebrated its 10th Anniversary.


Air Commodore ER Amarasekara succeeded AVM JL Barker as the third Commander of the
RCyAF on 01st November 1962 and also became the first Ceylonese Commander. The Pension and Gratuity Code was introduced to the Air Force


Flying Training School was moved out of Katunayake and located at China Bay.


In August 1965, Wg Cdr D De S Senevirathne became the first Ceylonese Station Commander of Katunayake Air Base succeeding Group Captain C L W Stewart.


Twenty years passed after the establishment of the RCyAF. On 01st January 1971, AVM ER Amarasekara handed over the Command to Air Commodore PH Mendis.

The RCyAF first saw combat operations, when the JVP Insurgency began in April 1971.

The Volunteer Air Force was established in the same month.

The No. 5 Squadron was formed with the induction of 06 Bell 47G2 helicopters and No.6 Jet Squadron was set up with the already existing Jet Provosts and the newly inducted Russian built MiG 15S and MiG 17 jets. The same year two Russian built Kamov KA-26 helicopters were inducted.

An important milestone was recorded in the field of aeronautical engineering when a De Havilland
Heron was given the 'Riley' conversion by RCyAF's own technical team

The RCyAF embarked on commercial flying operations. This service was named 'Helitours'.


A Convair 440 Metropolitan passenger aircraft was purchased to boost 'Helitours' operations
between Ceylon and the Maldives.


The SLAF Base China Bay was elevated as the Air Force Academy on 17th April 1975. The No.1 Flying Training School and Aeronautical and Administrative Training School Katunayake were combined to establish the Academy.

02 Douglas C-47 Dakotas (DC 3) were taken over from Air Ceylon for troops and cargo transportation.


On 02nd March 1976, the Air Force celebrated its Silver Jubilee and on 31st March 1976, the Air Force was honoured with the award of President's colours. Air Vice Marshal PH Mendis relinquished Command on 01st November 1976 and was succeeded by Air Vice Marshal WDHSW Goonetileke.


The Families' Welfare Association was formed and the Sports Board of the SLAF was renamed 'Air Force Sports Council'.


Sri Lanka Air Force detachments were established at Minneriya, Vavuniya and Weerawila.

The Air Dog Squad which ceased operations in 1974 was reactivated, the squad was improved and became an invaluable asset in the detection of explosives and in other surveillance roles.


1979 AVM WDHSW Goonetileke initiated the establishment of the SLAF Commando unit which was headed by Flight Lieutenant JE Peiris.

The Technical Maintenance Depot at Katunayake was separated as the Aircraft Engineering Wing (AEW) and the General Engineering Wing (GEW). SLAF made history with the commencement of building a Pazmany PL 2 light aircraft at the AEW.

On 24th September 1979, the first Air Force Museum was Eistablished at Katunayake to depict the aviation history of the SLAF to the public. 02 Aerospatiale SA 365 C Dauphin helicopters were purchased and 01 HS 748 AVRO passenger aircraft was also purchased.


The Ex-servicemen's Association was formed comprising 70 members. The first President appointed was Group Captain B Weeraratne and the first Secretary was Warrant Officer SOL Kulatunga. A Cessna 421 C Golden Eagle light aircraft was taken over by the SLAF.


The SLAF completes 3 decades of service. On 01st May 1981, Air Vice Marshal DC Perera succeeded Air Vice Marshal WDHSW Goonetileke as the 6th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force.

On 21st October 1981, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made her second visit to Sri Lanka. A guard of honour was given by the Sri Lanka Air Force on the arrival of Her Majesty.


On 09th January 1983, the Air Force initiated its first ever intake of airwomen to its regular force. Anuradhapura airstrip and airfield unit were inaugurated. The situation in the Northern and Eastern parts of the Island became tense as the Tamil militant groups, increased their guerilla activities.


Ratmalana Air Force camp was ceremonially declared open on 23rd April 1985 and No.2 Squadron was moved to Ratmalana. The SLAF Fleet was expanded with the purchase of 02 more Bell 206 Jet Rangers, 11 Bell 212s, 04 Bell 412s, 01 HS 748 AVRO, 03 SIAl Marchetti SF 260 TPs and 02 more Cessna 337 Skymasters.

AVM DC Perera relinquished duties as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force on 30th April 1985 and Air Marshal AW Fernando took over the Command.


The year dawned with a further escalation of the conflict in the North-East of the island. The SLAF initiated and went on to SLAF Sigiriya to turn out indigenous explosive ordnance for the SLAF's operations.


The Joint Operations Command (JOC) launched 'Operation Liberation' or the 'Vadamarachchi Operation'. It was the biggest military operation undertaken by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, up to that time. The Indo-Sri Lanka peace accord was signed and the Indian military intervened, thus the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) landed in the country. The Women's Wing was formed and the first CO was Air Commodore DSG Vithana. 04 Y-12 aircraft and 02 Y-8 aircraft were
purchased from China.


1988 The NO.3 Maritime Squadron was formed in 1988 at SLAF Base China Bay for coastal surveillance.


On 19th December 1989, the Sri Lanka Air Force Unit Ampara was established. Indian Peace keeping Force (IPKF) began to withdraw from Sri Lanka.


Air Marshal AW Fernando was promoted as Air Chief Marshal. Upon his retirement and on 01st August 1990, Air Marshal MJT De S Gunawardena took over as the 8th Commander of the SLAF



The SLAF celebrated its 40th Anniversary. The SLAF acquired the Chinese built FT 5s first and subsequently the FT 7 and F 7 supersonic fighters. No.5 Jet Squadron became operational at Katunayake.



Information Technology Unit was established on 24th November 1992 in Colombo. During the same year Four Argentine built Pucara aircraft entered service with the SLAF.



With the arrival of the first three MI-17 helicopters, No.6 Squadron was formed at Katunayake. The Command Quality Assurance Inspectorate (CQAI) was set up at SLAF Base Ratmalana.



On 17th February Air Marshal OM Ranasinghe succeeded Air Chief Marshal MJT De S Gunawardana.

The No.4 Helicopter Wing was divided into No. 401 and No. 402 Squadrons. No. 402 Squadron remained at SLAF Katunayake and handled VIP movements, whereas the No. 401 Squadron was shifted to SLAF Hingurakgoda.



Air Intelligence Unit began to function under the purview of the Directorate of Operations.

Re-structured the flying formations again. The No. 201 Squadron continued to be called No.2 Squadron and No. 202 Squadron was named as No.8 Squadron. No. 402 Squadron at Katunayake was made No.4 Helicopter Wing again and No. 401 Squadron began to function as No.7 Squadron.

The SLAF acquired the Antonov AN 32B transport aircraft and the Mi 24 Attack Helicopters.No.9 Attack Helicopter Squadron was formed with the induction of the Mi 24s.



1996 No. 10 Fighter Squadron was formed with the induction of the Israeli built Kfir fighter jets.

The SLAF introduced the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for its missions.



Air Marshal OM Ranasinghe, relinquished Command and was succeeded by Air Marshal J Weerakkody on 06th March 1998. Three Mi-35 helicopters were inducted to No.9 Attack Helicopter Squadron at Hingurakgoda.


Junior Command and Staff College (JC&SC) and Non-Commissioned Officers Management School (NMS) were declared open at SLAF Base China Bay.


The SLAF inducted 02 Hercules C-130 aircraft and Russian built MiG 27 Supersonic fighter jets.

Bell 412 EP helicopters (VVIP version of the Bell 412) were inducted to NO.4 Squadron.


The SLAF celebrated its Golden Anniversary on 03rd March 2001. President's Colours were awarded to the No.1 Flying Training Wing (FTW) and SLAF Base Katunayake for their long distinguished service. Chinese built PT 6 aircraft were inducted as basic trainers to the No .1 FTW and the new Chinese built K 8 advanced (Jet) trainers formed the No. 14 Squadron.


Air Marshal J Weerakkody relinquished Command and on 16th July 2002, Air Marshal GD Perera took over the Command of the SLAF.

A cease-fire agreement was signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), giving a pause to the Northern and Eastern war fronts.

Construction of the new multi-storied headquarters building which was commenced by Air Marshal OM Ranasinghe was declared open


The SLAF's own ultra-light weight aircraft designed and built by SLAF personnel, the 'Centenary X' was successfully flown over Ratmalana air field to mark the 100th anniversary of aviation on 17th December 2003.


The SLAF played a key role in rescue operations and transportation of essential goods to affected areas, when the Tsunami devastation struck the coastal areas of the Island on 26th December 2004


The SLAF sent its first team of troops to the United Nations (UN) on a peace Keeping mission in Haiti.


2006 Two Russian built MI 17 V-5 Helicopters were inducted to No.6 Squadron. Air Marshal GD Perera relinquished Command and Air Marshal WDRMJ Goonetileke, took over Command of the Air Force as the 12th Commander on 12th June 2006.

The doors of the battle front re-opened as peace talks failed and the LTTE terrorists block


2007 Hi-Tech Air Surveillance systems were introduced to the Beechcraft and the acquisition of the Blue Horizon UAV boosted the fleet and capabilities of the SLAF UAV fleet. Establishment of the Battle Management Command Centre at AFHQ further enhanced SLAF's surveillance and attack capabilities.

With the liberation of the entire East from terrorists, new detachments and units were established by the SLAF at Trincomalee, Peraru and Kantale in order to assist the Army to secure the area. The Russian built MiG 23 and MiG 27S were separated from No.5 Squadron and shifted to No. 12 Fighter Squadron at Katunayake.



2008 The SLAF Unit Meerigama was established. The F7 GS interceptor joined the No.5 Jet Squadron. The Directorate of Operations was divided into two, the Directorate of Air Operations and the Directorate of Ground Operations. In addition, two new Directorates were also formed; the Directorate of Inspections and Safety and the Directorate of Dental Services.



Changed the SLAF insignia. The Air Base at China Bay was converted back to academy status. No.1 Flying Training Wing was shifted back to China Bay. On 7th March 2009, President's Colours were awarded to No.2 Squadron, No.4 Squadron, No.9 Squadron, No. 10 Squadron and SLAF Regiment for their dedicated work.

The 30-year-long war, which divided the motherland, finally came to an end as the Sri Lankan military defeated the LTTE and liberated the motherland.

The SLAF won the National Productivity Award. Air Marshal WDRMJ Goonetileke was promoted to the rank of Air Chief Marshal, becoming the first SLAF Commander promoted to the ACM rank whilst in office. New SLAF units were opened in Mamaduwa and Iranamadu.



The SLAF assisted Pakistan during the floods therein. Helitours was re-started on a mass scale, to local destinations such as Palaly, Anuradapura, Sigiriya, China Bay and Hingurakgoda to cater to the needs of the general public. In addition, the facility of extending charter flights was extended to cater to special requirements.



Air Marshal HD Abeywickrema took over command as the 13th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force.

SLAF Celebrated the 60th Anniversary in a grand manner while holding an exhibition and fun fair at SLAF Base Ratmalana along with many other events held at their establishments Island wide.

SLAF contributed in the Nation Building Process by recruiting 4000 skilled tradesmen in the construction industry as airmen in order to enhance their skills as well as by employing them in National Reconstruction Efforts.

Two Chinese built MA 60 aircraft were inducted to the 'Helitours' expanding its operations. Two new Bell 412EP Helicopters were inducted to No 04 Squadron to augment the VVIP transport capability of the SLAF



A Rugby ground of International standard was constructed and declared open on 29th Feb 2012 at SLAF Ratmalana.

SLAF Diyathalawa won the first place in the competition of Horticulture and Gardening organized by the Ministry of Tourism.

SLAF won the first place in the 13th 'Guwan Papadi Savariya' (bicycle race) which was held over a period of three days.

Sri Lanka won both Silver and Bronze medals in the open Judo Championships held in Thailand on 04th June 2012 and both winners were members of the SLAF.



The Information Technology Wing (ITW) equipped with Modern Technology was established at SLAF Ratmalana and was declared open by Air Marshal HD Abeywickrema on 11th March 2013. A branch office of the Helitours was opened in Jaffna on 22th April 2013.

First SLAF Hospitality Trade School was opened at SLAF Sigiriya on 14th June 2013. The Command Research Library was established and declared open at the Air Force Museum on 07th March 2013.

SLAF took over the Iranamadu Runway and completely rebuilt it with the Civil Engineering ingenuity of the Air Force. The Banquet Hall 'Eagles' Lagoon View' built and operated by the SLAF was declared open by His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksha the President of Sri Lanka on 02nd March 2013 and the Banquet Hall 'Eagles' Lakeside' on 12th Nov 2013.

A fleet of new Mi-171E, Mi-171Sh helicopters were inducted to the SLAF to increase its medium lift helicopter capacity and to seek to take part in UN aviation missions.


Gagana viru monument was established at Ekala Trade Training School on 08th January 2014, in memory of all SLAF war heroes who made the supreme sacrifice for the motherland.

"Eagles Heritage Golf " Ground, the second golf ground in Sri Lanka Air Force, was declared open by the commander of Sri Lanka Air Force on 26th January 2014.

Air Chief Marshal KA Gunatilleke took over command as the 14th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force. First SLAF Aviation unit was dispatched to the Central African Republic in September 2014 on a UN deployment contributing to the world peace keeping operations and a number of opportunities were obtained to send Sri Lanka Air Force personnel to perform their primary aviation duties in a multinational environment.



Second SLAF Aviation unit was dispatched to South Sudan in June 2015 on a UN deployment.

In 16th June 2015 Air Marshal GP Bulathsinghala was appointed as the 15th commander of Sri Lanka Air Force.

On 08th of August 2015, Sri Lanka Air Force website obtained the Golden Award for the most popular website and Silver award for the best web site among the government websites.

In 08th of September 2015 the newly established aquatic sports complex at Ratmalana Air Force Base was declared open by His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena the President of Sri Lanka.

SLAF's ITU Cyber Security team won the first place in the National Hacking Challenge 2015

SLAF won the National Productivity Award under the Inter Department Sector for their performance in the year 2014 at the National Productivity Award Ceremony held in December 2015



2016 SLAF rendered an outstanding service by conducting rescue missions in freeing personnel who were stranded in floods occurred at different places of the country.

Air Marshal Kapila Jayampathy became the 16th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force on 12th September 2016.

SLAF was presented the National Productivity Gold Award under the Inter Department Sector by His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena the President of Sri Lanka for their performance in year 2015 at the National Productivity Award Ceremony held in December 2016.



His Excellency the President, Minister of Defence and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces Maithripala Sirisena was the Chief Guest at the Passing out Parade of the Sri Lanka Air Force Academy Chinabay on 13th January 2017.