I believe it is our Air Force, among all other Air Forces in the world which has the most extensive experience in combating terrorism. No terrorist organisation in the world has had air capability
By Lahiru Pothmulla and Amadoru Amarajeewa
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said no air force in the world has experience on air strikes against the terrorists than the Air Force of Sri Lanka.
The Prime Minister expressed these views at a ceremony held in Trincomalee on the occasion of Commissioning of officers and the award of Flying Brevets by the Sri Lanka Air Force.
Speaking at the event, the Prime Minister said no other terrorist group except for the LTTE had the capability of air strikes.
“I believe it is our Air Force, among all other Air Forces in the world which has the most extensive experience in combating terrorism. No terrorist organisation in the world has had air capability. Even 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 organisations 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.
He said the people referred to these low flying aircraft as ‘Kurumbatti’ which launched air strikes at nerve centres such as Kolonnawa, Kerawalapitiya and Katunayake.
“Fortunately, those attacks were not that successful. All these methods of the LTTE led to the FBI to name the LTTE as the most ruthless terrorist outfit in 2008. Therefore, our air force has unique experiences unlike any other air force in the world. Terrorism has become the most pressing issue in the world,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said.
He said the Sri Lanka Air Force entered the four decade long war from the 1980s, after the terrorists began controlling territory.
“From that time until the end of the war, the Sri Lanka Air Force played an indispensable role in the defence of the motherland. When the LTTE concentrated all their forces and attacked isolated Army camps deep within enemy territory, Air Force pilots took enormous risks, taking helicopters into those camps to evacuate the injured and to supply arms. They also attacked the enemy from the air to relieve pressure on the beleaguered camp. The heroism of these pilots is now a part of the history of that war,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said it is not only in times of war that the armed forces serve the people and that 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 young officers receiving their commissions and Flying Brevets today will be the heirs of that legacy of service to the nation. I have the fullest confidence that you will fulfil your future duties in a manner befitting the historic legacy of the Sri Lanka Air Force. I wish you well,” Prime Minister Rajapaksa said. Eastern Province Governor Anuradha Yahampath, Air force Commander Sumangala Dias, Air force China Bay Academy’s Dean Air Commodore Udeni Rajapaksha and others were also present.
Even 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 organisations in that respect