Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana said that though there is no enemy at present, improving the attack and air support capabilities of the Air Force is one of his key priorities during his tenure as Air Force Commander.
Speaking to media after assuming duties as the 18th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force, Air Marshal Pathirana said that they are well-below the required standard of fighter capacity or attack capability.
“In our fleet, we have three types of aircraft namely fighters, transport aircraft and transport helicopters. But in percentage wise, if we take the fighter capacity or attack capability, we are well-below the required standard. It is not that we have an enemy at present but we need to maintain our capabilities and capacities, which we had in the past. And in the transport aircraft and transport helicopters, I should say we are mid-way there. Flying is a costly affair. So we need to keep the current situation in the world and country in mind and we have to have series of serious planning to make sure we are going ahead with proper plans,” he said.
The Commander said that he intends to focus the efforts of the Air Force towards 4 main goals.
“Firstly, improving the attack and air support capabilities of the Air Force with prompt maintenance of the aircraft fleet and with timely new acquisitions. Secondly, improving maritime surveillance and maritime disaster management capabilities of the Air Force with the employment of cutting edge technologies to protect and preserve the resources within the exclusive economic zone for future generations,” he said.
The Commander said he would enhance the capability of unmanned aerial vehicles and also cyber security activities to win the future challenges.
“Fourth is to make sure that my air force is capable of facing any challenges during any natural calamity in the country to ensure protection of people,” he said.
Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana joined the SL AF as an Officer Cadet on July 2, 1985, he completed his Basic Ground Training at Diyatalawa, securing the award for the Best Cadet of the 11th Officer Cadets Course.
Air Marshal Pathirana was commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer on January 2, 1987 at the PAF Academy.
Air Marshal Pathirana commanded three Air Bases, which includes tenure as the Commandant of the Air Force Academy. He was appointed to the Air Force Board of Management in 2017 as the Director Air Operations prior to being appointed as the Commander; he served as the Chief of Staff from 2019 onwards.(Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya)