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Indian Ocean peace is our priority at present: SLAF chief

11 Apr 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

  • Five existing Kfir jets set for operation next year

By Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya   
Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) yesterday emphasized its commitment to maintaining peace in the Indian Ocean region, despite the absence of immediate terrorist threats within Sri Lanka.   

The SLAF has already procured two new Y12 aircraft of Chinese origin as part of its fleet expansion efforts


Air Force Commander Air Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa said the SLAF is very much worried about the civilians, weaponizers and providing free navigation for naval craft in the Indian Ocean and that they need to address 
those issues.   
In response to a media query the necessity of maintaining fighter jets like Kfir and F7 in the SLAF’s fleet, the Commander explained that while they don’t currently see an immediate need to phase out such jets, they are focusing on serviceability and plan to upgrade the existing five Kfir jets, by the first half of next year.  
 “It’s not a matter to say that we don’t need any Kfir,s but we have to understand and prioritize certain things depending on the economy of the country. Our leadership has given us certain priorities. So, our priority today is the peace in the Indian Ocean. We are planning to upgrade the five Kfir jets by first half of next year,” he said.  
 “That fleet will come in to operation by next year,” he said.  
He said the SLAF has already procured two new Y12 aircraft of Chinese origin as part of its fleet expansion efforts.   
Air Marshal Rajapaksa said that the SLAF is acquiring two Beech King Air aircraft, one from Australia expected within the next three months and another from the United States undergoing modifications for its role in Sri Lanka. The USA aircraft is anticipated to arrive by the end of this year after necessary equipment installations are completed.  Meanwhile, the Commander said that the SLAF is sending helicopters for significant overhauls. 
Pic by Pradeep Pathirana