Written by Zulfick Farzan
02 Nov, 2020 | 2:34 pm
Colombo (News 1st); Air Vice Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana assumed duties as the 18th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force on Monday (02).
Air Vice-Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana was the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Air Force before he was appointed as the Commander by the President and is a proud product of Dharmaraja College Kandy.
He joined the Sri Lanka Air Force on the 2nd of July 1985, where he completed his Basic Ground Training at SLAF Diyatalawa securing the award for the Best Cadet of the 14th Officer Cadets Intake.
He was one of the three pilots who were selected for advance flying training in the Pakistan Air Force and secured the award for the Best Allied Flight Cadet by the Pakistan Air Force.
He received his commission on the 2nd of January 1987 to the rank of Pilot Officer, in the General Duties Pilot Branch.
His operational career commenced as a reconnaissance pilot at the No 3 Maritime Squadron in 1987 and in 1989 he was posted to the No 2 Transport Squadron flying the Y 12 Aircraft.
In 1990 he was selected to be amongst the first six SLAF pilots to convert to supersonic F7BS fighter aircraft at the No 5 Jet Squadron and in 1995 he was selected to fly the more advanced Kfir fighter aircraft at No 10 Jet Squadron.
He commanded all three fighter squadrons and continued to be the Commanding Officer of No 10 Kfir Jet Squadron until 2007.
Air Vice-Marshal Pathirana was selected to undergo the All-Purpose Qualified Flying Instructors Course in India in 1995 and became the first Sri Lankan Pilot to successfully complete the course.
He is a qualified Fighter Pilot, Flying Instructor, and an active operational flyer who has flown over 3500 flying hours over 15 types of aircraft and also held the positions of “Command Instrument Rating Examiner” and “Command Flight Safety Officer” of the Sri Lanka Air Force.
In addition to his military flying career, he holds a Commercial Pilots License and is a Flying Examiner for the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka.
In the year 2002, he earned the distinction of attending the esteemed Air Command and Staff College, Air University US Air Force, Alabama, USA, where he became the first Sri Lankan Air Force Officer to obtain the prestigious Masters in Operational Art and Science awarded by the Air University, Alabama, USA.
He served as the first Defence Attaché at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation from 2007 to 2009.
Following this, he served at the Ministry of Defence as the Deputy Military Liaison Officer from 2009 to 2011.
He has participated in almost all the major counter-terrorism operations conducted in Sri Lanka and his bravery has been acknowledged through the award of gallantry awards on six occasions.
He is one of the few pilots who have been awarded prestigious Green Endorsement in his flying logbook by both Pakistani and Sri Lankan Air Forces.
Apart from his professional flying career, he has contributed to the upliftment of sports in the SLAF as the Chairman of Athletics and is the current Chairman of Golf for SLAF.
To date, he has an unblemished and promising career record within the Sri Lanka Air Force as the senior-most Fighter Pilot and as the most senior qualified and flying instructor in the fixed-wing stream.
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