SLAF History : Restructure of Flying Squadrons
MI-24 Joined SLAF

The escalation of hostilities prompted further aircraft acquisitions six more Mi-17 tactical helicopters were purchased. For the first time, an attack helicopter in the form of the Mi-24 joined the SLAF fleet three of these aircraft were leased until delivery of those purchased by SLAF. The Mi-24s were temporarily attached to No. 401 Squadron at Hingurakgoda (later No. 7 Helicopter Squadron).

At the same time, three Antonov AN-32B transport aircraft joined No. 201 Heavy Transport Squadron (later No. 2 Heavy Transport Squadron). Later the Mi-24s attached to No. 401 Squadron were regrouped as No. 9 Attack Helicopter Squadron in November 1995, and remained at Hingurakgoda. The Mi-24, as with the Mi-17, proved to be a tremendous aircraft. Heavily armoured, the Mi-24s capacity to absorb a great deal of battle damage and remain operational, soon endeared it to the SLAF.

If the ground war was the most intensely fought affair in 1995, the Air Force too had scars to show for it! In the year, six aircraft were lost and even more tragically fourteen experienced pilots lost their lives. Two Avro HS748 aircraft were downed by enemy fire on 28th and 29th April. In July, an IA58 Pucara was lost. One of the newly added AN32Bs went down in September, a Y-8 in November and another AN32B also in November. All except the Pucara belonged to No. 201 Heavy Transport Squadron. The bringing down of the two Avro HS748s revealed a new capability of the terrorists anti-aircraft missile power.

The lack of any intelligence to reveal that the terrorists did, in fact, possess missile capabilities, cost the SLAF dearly in terms of aircraft losses. However a total of 25 missions were supported by the SLAF in the battle areas. The main thrust was Operation Riviresa, stages 1, 2 and 3, up to that time the largest military operation conducted by the Army. These missions helped capture large areas of the Jaffna Peninsula. The newly acquired Mi-24 attack helicopters played a significant role in the battles.

ශ්‍රී ලංකා ගුවන් හමුදාව
ගුවනේ ආරක්‍ෂකයෝ
National Defence College
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