Supercruise Aviation - Article

Visit Sri Lanka Air Force

I had the opportunity to visit the Sri Lanka Air Force in 2023, where 4 bases would be visited, namely China Bay, Hingurakgoda, Ratmalana and Katunayake.

During this visit we were accompanied by two Air Force officers, Wing Commander Yohan Somawansa and photographer Sampath Edirisinghe.

SLAF China Bay

The first base we visited was China Bay, near the city of Trincomalee. The Air Force Academy is located on this base, the 1e Flying Training Wing, where the training of all Air Force pilots begins. During the training the Cesna 150, the PT-6 and the K-8 are flown, the first two being propeller aircraft and the last one being a jet trainer.

The welcome at the base was very warm and we were given every opportunity to take photos of all the aircraft, which applies to all visited bases. The PT-6 trainer was flown especially for us. We were able to follow the start-up procedure and taxi to the runway. While the trainer was on its way to the runway, we were accompanied to the runway, so that we could properly photograph the take-off and the passing flights.

During our visit there was also a Beech 200T present, which would also do a number of fly bys for us. Here too we could also observe the start-up.

SLAF Hingurakgoda

The next day we went to SLAF Hingurakgoda. The Mi-24V, Mi35P, Bell 206 and Bell 212 are stationed at this base.

Unfortunately, due to problems obtaining parts, gunships were not operational at the time of the visit. A Mi-35P was prepared especially for our visit, with all possible armaments available for this gunship.

The Bell 206 was flown, so we could take pictures of this helicopter as it flew past several times.

The Bell 212.

SLAF Rathmalana

The 3rd day of the visit to a base in the very beautiful Sri Lanka was at Rathmalana in Colombo. There are 4 squadrons at this base, which fly helicopters and transport aircraft. The Bell 212, Bell 412(EP) and Mi-171E are flown for VIP services.

In addition, the Mi-171E is also used by the 6th squadron. 8 squadron has access to the Beech 200, the Y-12 for lighter transport and the MA60 for somewhat heavy work.

The Air Force Museum is also located on this base, where a very extensive collection of all aircraft and helicopters that have flown with the Sri Lanka Air Force can be seen.

SLAF Katunayake

The last visit was to Katunayake, where the transport squadron and the fighter squadrons are located. The overhaul wing for all Chinese aircraft types is also located at this base.

So that we could take nice pictures of the An-32, a taxi run was going to be done over the runway, but unfortunately it just started to rain heavily, but we were still able to take some good pictures.

Then we visited the fighter squadron that flies F-7BS, F-7GS and the FT-7. Unfortunately, these aircraft are rarely flown anymore, but they were going to do engine tests especially for us.

Some of the helicopters at the overhauling hangers.

I would like to thank the Sri Lanka Air Force for this very successful visit and all the individuals from the bases who we visited. In particular our Air Force escorts Wing Commander Yohan Somawansa and photographer Sampath Edirisinghe. Also a thank you to 4Aviation for arranging this beautiful trip.

Report and Photos by Fran├žois van Riel