Colombo, Dec 6 (Daily Mirror) - The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) took delivery of two brand-new Harbin Y-12IV aircraft yesterday, marking a significant milestone in the modernization and expansion of its fleet. Manufactured by Harbin Aviation Industry Co. Ltd. in China, the acquisition of these state-of-the-art aircraft, at a cost of USD 18 million, is expected to play a pivotal role in promoting tourism within Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Air Force began exploring the possibility of acquiring new Y-12IV aircraft in 2017. After a thorough evaluation process, a contract was signed on December 16, 2019 between the Sri Lankan Government and the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation. These aircraft will be inducted to the No. 8 "Light Transport" Squadron of the Sri Lanka Air Force.
"We have already paid 70% of the total cost, and the remaining 30% will be settled in installments over the next two years," Air Force Commander Air Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa said.
In addition to fulfilling operational, search, and rescue needs, the Air Force Commander highlighted the unique capability of these aircraft to support tourism promotion. Each aircraft has a capacity for 15 passengers. The Commander highlighted the unique ability of the Y-12IVs to land on 90% of Sri Lanka's runways, making them ideal for promoting tourism in remote and picturesque locations.
The Y-12IV aircraft is a Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft, known for its versatility and adaptability. This improved version of the Y-12 boasts extended wing tips and an increased take-off weight, leading to enhanced performance and operational flexibility.
Air Marshal Rajapaksa said that the acquisition of these aircraft underscores the SLAF's commitment to continuous improvement and modernization. The Y-12IVs will strengthen the Air Force's fleet with cutting-edge technology and significantly enhance its operational capabilities.
The arrival of the Y-12IV aircraft fills a crucial void within the SLAF fleet. In January 2020, the Air Force experienced the tragic loss of one of its existing Y-12 aircraft in a Haputale crash.
The addition of these two new aircraft ensures continued operational effectiveness and strengthens the SLAF's ability to serve the nation and contribute to regional security.
State Minister of Defence Premitha Bandara Tennakoon, Chief of Staff to the President and National Security Advisor Sagala Ratnayaka, Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne, Chief of Defence Staff Shavendra Silva, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera and several other officials attended the induction ceremony held at the Ratmalana SLAF Base.