- Nation’s tribute to Air Force heroes who made tremendous sacrifices to safeguard the unity of the Motherland
- Primary responsibility of Armed Forces including Air Force is to ensure national security
-says President addressing Presidential Colour Awarding ceremony
Two flying squadrons of the Air Force were honoured by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with the award of the Presidential Colour in recognition of their exceptional service and contribution to the nation.
President Rajapaksa said that we should pay the nation’s tribute to the members of the Air Force who made tremendous sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, in ensuring peace in our nation.
He said that maintaining the security of the nation is the primary responsibility of the Armed Forces, including the Air Force.
The President made these remarks addressing the Presidential Colour Awarding ceremony held at Air Force Base Katunayake, today (05).
The President presented colours to the No. 05 Fighter Jet Squadron and the No 06 Transport Helicopter Squadron of the Sri Lanka Air Force, which have a proud history of over seven decades, under the theme ‘Protecting the Lankan Skies’ (‘Surakimu Lakambara’).
The Presidential Colour Award is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon any unit of the armed forces by Commander-in-Chief. With this, the Sri Lanka Air Force has been awarded 13 Presidential Colours.
The President pointed out that sincere international cooperation that recognizes and values our shared humanity will help us to successfully face many of the threats in this present era that cut across national boundaries. “It underscores the need for the utmost preparedness in a complex, dynamic and continually challenging global environment,” the President said.
President Rajapaksa appreciated the presence of representatives of several friendly foreign Air Forces and said, “Their presence is a testament to the friendly ties between our nations, and it reaffirms the importance of sustaining and strengthening these bonds”.
After the awards ceremony, the President inspected C-130 Squadron Nos. 02 and 05 at Sri Lanka Air Force Base, Katunayake.
The President also observed the Indian Air Force aircrafts and posed for a group photo with the pilots.
The book written by Air Commander Commodore Channa Dissanayake on the theme “70 years of Air Power of Sri Lanka Air Force” was presented to the President.
Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal Sudharshana Pathirana presented a memento to the President.
After posing for a photo with the Air Force Board of Directors, the President made a note in the Sri Lanka Air Force Special Guest Book.
Western Province Governor Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Goonetileke, Defence Secretary Retired General Kamal Gunaratne, Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander General Shavendra Silva, Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Commander of the Air Force Air Marshal Sudharshana Pathirana, IGP C.D. Wickramaratne, Air Chiefs and delegations from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the US Pacific Air Forces and their family members participated on this occasion.
Following is the full text of the speech made by His Excellency President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Colours Awarding Parade of the Sri Lanka Air Force- March 5, 2021.
Colours Awarding Parade of the Sri Lanka Air Force
Secretary, Ministry of Defence, General Kamal Guneratne
Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana
Our Guests of Honour from Overseas, the Chiefs of Air Staff from Bangladesh, Pakistan and the US Pacific Air Force
Chief of Staff, the Board of Management, Officers and other ranks of the Sri Lanka Air Force
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces to address you this morning at this historic Colours Awarding Parade of the Sri Lanka Air Force.
This occasion celebrates a significant accolade achieved by two dedicated and distinguished flying formations of our Air Force.
The Number Five Fighter Squadron was established in 1991 as Sri Lanka’s first supersonic squadron. It has been the bedrock of the offensive application of air power of the nation ever since. It rendered great service to the nation during the course of our fight against terrorism, and it remains a key element in maintaining our nation’s air defence capability. It is also worthy of mention that the present Air Force Commander, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana, was one of the founding members of this squadron.
The Number Six Helicopter Squadron, which operates the Mi 17 helicopters, has rendered yeoman service to the nation in wartime and in peace since its establishment in 1993. It has provided great assistance during times of crises and in various other operations for the nation’s benefit. It is also significant that the squadron has demonstrated its capabilities internationally too, by supplying aviation contingents for UN Peacekeeping Operations in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan.
The awarding of the President’s Colours to these two accomplished squadrons today elevates them to a select number of units within the Sri Lanka Air Force that have been recognised for their exceptional service and contribution to the nation. I extend my warm congratulations to these Squadrons and their personnel, both past and present, for achieving this signal honour. I encourage them to continue to demonstrate their excellence in the years ahead.
Today’s Colours Parade also comes just two days after, the Sri Lanka Air Force celebrated its Seventieth Anniversary. This is another noteworthy milestone in its rich history. From its modest beginnings in 1951, when Group Captain G C Bladon of the Royal Air Force took command of the newly established Royal Ceylon Air Force, this institution has grown into a distinguished, professional and greatly accomplished military organization that has served our motherland well.
During its seven decades of dedicated service, the Sri Lanka Air Force has maintained a high degree of professionalism and excellence in its operations. When called upon at various junctures of our history, it has risen to the occasion commendably, and earned the appreciation and respect of the nation.
I pay tribute to the many members of the Air Force who made tremendous sacrifices, including the ultimate sacrifice, in ensuring peace in our nation.
As Sri Lanka forges its future based on the principles enshrined in the Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour, the policy document of our government, the Air Force and other Armed Services must continue to play their central role in maintaining our national security. Ensuring that all citizens are safe and have a secure environment in which they can live without fear or apprehension is a core priority of my Government that cannot be compromised at any cost.
When we presented our policy document to the people, we stated that national security is of utmost importance for the development of the country. If a country does not have peace and security, freedom of the people will be obviously at peril, and day-to-day activities of private and public sectors will be greatly hampered as we had witnessed in the past. No investor will come to a country that cannot guarantee national security. These and many other reasons made us grant top priority to restore national security and ensure law and order in the society.
In this context, the Air Force in particular, will have a significant role to play not just within the territory of Sri Lanka, but also in safeguarding our extended economic zone and contributing to the maintenance of a free and peaceful Indian Ocean, another crucial aspect of Sri Lanka’s well-being.
Less than six months ago, a concerted effort between the Sri Lanka Air Force, the Sri Lanka Navy and Coast Guard, together with the Navy and Coast Guard of our closest friend and ally, India, helped avert a potentially catastrophic environmental disaster by dousing the fire on board an oil tanker as it lay ablaze in Sri Lankan waters.
This is an example of the many and varied challenges that can arise at any moment. It underscores the need for the utmost preparedness in a complex, dynamic and continually challenging global environment.
As that example and the ongoing pandemic have shown, many of the threats we face in this present era cut across national boundaries. They can only be successfully faced, with sincere international cooperation that recognizes and values our shared humanity.
In this context, I particularly appreciate the presence of representatives of several friendly foreign Air Forces who have joined us on this occasion. I thank the Air Chiefs and delegations from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the US Pacific Air Forces, for being here today despite the challenges of this present time. Your presence is a testament to the friendly ties between our nations, and it reaffirms the importance of sustaining and strengthening these bonds.
In concluding, I once again congratulate the members of the Number Five and Number Six Squadrons of the Sri Lanka Air Force on their receipt of Presidential Colours. I also commend the Sri Lanka Air Force on having recently completed Seventy years of excellent service to the nation and wish its Commander, Air Marshal Pathirana and all its personnel success, in every future endeavour. I wish all of you present here today clearer skies and fair winds.