COLOMBO (Agencies) — The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has unveiled ambitious plans to bolster its aviation capabilities through strategic acquisitions. Air Marshal R A Udeni P Rajapaksa, the SLAF Commander, outlined these initiatives during a press conference.

  • Strategic Shift: From Combat to Surveillance

The SLAF is strategically pivoting away from the development of major combat capabilities. Instead, it is focusing on critical areas such as maritime surveillance, transport, and territorial defense. Air Marshal Rajapaksa emphasized the importance of maritime domain awareness for sustainable national development, particularly in the context of maintaining peace in the Indian Ocean.

  • Collaboration and Acquisition

To achieve these goals, the SLAF is actively engaging with other nations. Discussions are underway regarding the acquisition of helicopters and training aircraft. These additions will enhance the SLAF’s operational readiness and ensure effective protection of Sri Lanka’s land and maritime interests.

  • Maritime Patrol Aircraft

The SLAF is set to receive two crucial assets:

  • Beechcraft King Air 350: A gift from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), this aircraft will significantly enhance Sri Lanka’s maritime surveillance capabilities.
  • Beechcraft King Air 360ER Extended Range (B300): Procured from the US government under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, this cutting-edge aircraft will further strengthen the SLAF’s operational reach.

In May 2023, the Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat confirmed that Australia would provide sustainment support for the King Air 350 for an initial period of 12 months, after which the responsibility would transition to the Sri Lankan government1.

These acquisitions mark a strategic shift for the SLAF, emphasizing its commitment to safeguarding national interests and contributing to regional stability.

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