The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), which contributed in a major way to the Humanitarian Operation has a wealth of experience in combating airborne terrorist activities more than any other Air Force in the world, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the awarding of commission and flying brevets to officers and Cadet Officers of the Sri Lanka Air Force at China Bay, Trincomalee yesterday (17). Prime Minister Rajapaksa pointed out that the Tri-Forces have a great responsibility towards their country not only during the war and post-war periods.
“I hope you all remember May 19, 2009, the day which saw the end of the prolonged war in this country.
The Sri Lanka Air Force contributed immensely for that victory. This is the air wing of the military machine that defeated the LTTE which was considered to be undefeatable. When the LTTE blocked the progress of our Army by creating gigantic walls, it was the Sri Lanka Air Force that took the lead and made way for our Army to proceed towards enemy territory by destroying these blockades. They used high-tech pilotless aircraft for reconnaissance to find information vital for the army’s forward march. Our victory was expedited by the Air Force,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
“The Air Force also used Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for reconnaissance purposes behind enemy lines and artillery units on the ground were thereby able to obtain accurate information on potential enemy targets.
I believe it is our Air Force, among all other Air Forces in the world which has the most extensive experience in combatting terrorism. No terrorist organization in the world has had air capability. Even the Islamic State (ISIS) which controlled large swathes of Iraq and Syria for a while, did not have the capacity to launch terrorist attacks by air. The LTTE was unique among terrorist organizations in that respect. They introduced a new dimension to global terrorism through their air attacks. Their strategy was to use slow, low-flying small aircraft that operate only at night to carry out attacks,” he said.
“Our people used the term ‘kurumbetti’ to refer to the LTTE’s attack aircraft. But the LTTE used these small aircraft to bomb important facilities such as the oil refinery in Kolonnawa, the oil storage facilities in Kerawalapitiya and the Air Force base in Katunayake. Fortunately for us, those attacks were not successful. If they had succeeded, the damage would have been immense. When the LTTE commenced these air operations, the attention of the entire world was focused on what was happening in Sri Lanka. The terrorists had modified their small planes in such a manner that the air to air missiles on our jet attack aircraft could not detect the heat signature from their aircraft engines. That was the first time the world had encountered such a terrorist tactic.” PM Rajapaksa observed.
“It was the LTTE that introduced innovations like the suicide jacket and small, fast, explosives-laden boats manned by suicide cadres to global terrorism. Using small, slow, low-flying modified aircraft for night time air attacks was another innovation that the LTTE introduced to global terrorism. These are the reasons why the FBI officially declared the LTTE to be the world’s deadliest terrorist group in 2008,” the Prime Minister further said.
The Prime Minister also pointed out that in today’s world, nation-states rarely go to war with one another. “Terrorism is the problem that most often requires military solutions today. In this respect, our armed forces possess a great deal of valuable experience,” he said.
The Prime Minister further said the Tri-Forces have a greater role to play during times of peace as well.
“It is not only in times of war that the Armed Forces serve the people. They also have a peacetime role. Everyone has seen the role the Air Force plays in relief operations during disasters such as floods.
That role in relief operations is something that only the Air Force can perform. The Air Force also performs surveillance duties with regard to Sri Lanka’s coast and monitors foreign vessels entering Sri Lanka’s maritime zone,” the Prime Minister also said.