President Kumaratunga with the Air Force Commander and others enjoying the aerobatics at yesterday’s Air Show in Colombo. (Pix: Ravindra Deeptha. Courtesy: Daily Mirror)
“The war is carried out against the politics of terror,” said President Kumaraqtunga at the inaugural ceremony held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Air Force yesterday, at the Ratmalana airport in suburban Colombo. “It is not a war fought against minority ethnic groups who stand for self-determination,” CBK further said
President Chandrika Kumaratunga was honoured with a twenty-one-gun salute and silence was observed in honour of those who sacrificed their lives in battlefields.
The President in her short address said that the government and the people are proud of the Sri Lanka Air Force and its achievements over the years.
She further said that the SLAF has developed into a fully modern force during the past ten years and has acquired dozens of modern combat aircraft.
The Katunayaka air wing and the Anuradhapura training wing were awarded Presidential colours. The colourful ceremony began with leaders of different religions invoking blessings on the Air Force and the country. On March 2 1951, the Sri Lanka Air Force came into being as the Royal Ceylon Air Force. Till the youth insurrection in 1971, the SLAF has remained a ceremonial outfit, mainly preserving peace, assisting civilian operations and patrolling maritime areas.
Expressing her warm felicitations to the Air Force Commander, officers and all ranks on the SLAF’S Golden Jubilee, the President said that it should dedicate itself to building a terror-free nation united under one flag in which everyone regardless of race, caste and creed should be guaranteed equal rights and the opportunities to live with dignity.
She expressed the hope that the SLAF would display greater strength and efficiency in the years to come in defending the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. President Kumaratunga thanked the Air Force for the noble service they had rendered during the past half-century.
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A celebration in the sky –SLAF 50 tomorrow