Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa today noted the innovations introduced by the LTTE during the war, including the suicide jacket and small, fast, explosives laden boats.
Speaking on the occasion of the commissioning of officers and the award of Flying Brevets by the Sri Lanka Air Force today, Rajapaksa noted that the LTTE used small aircraft, identified by locals as ‘kurumbetti’ to bomb important facilities such as the oil refinery in Kolonnawa, the oil storage facilities in Kerawalapitiya and the Air Force base in Katunayake.
“Fortunately for us, those attacks were not successful. If they had succeeded, the damage would have been immense. When the LTTE commenced these air operations, the attention of the entire world was focused on what was happening in Sri Lanka. The terrorists had modified their small planes in such a manner that the air to air missiles on our jet attack aircraft could not detect the heat signature from their aircraft engines. That was the first time the world had encountered such a terrorist tactic,” the Prime Minister said.
Rajapaksa, who was President during the final stages of the war against the LTTE, said that it was the LTTE that introduced innovations like the suicide jacket and small, fast, explosives laden boats manned by suicide cadres to global terrorism.
Using small, slow, low-flying modified aircraft for night time air attacks was another innovation that the LTTE introduced to global terrorism, he said.
“These are the reasons why the FBI officially declared the LTTE to be the world’s deadliest terrorist group in 2008. Thus, our Air Force possesses experience in combatting terrorism that no other Air Force in the world has. In today’s world, nation states rarely go to war with one another. Terrorism is the problem that most often requires military solutions today. In this respect, our armed forces possess a great deal of valuable experience,” Rajapaksa said.
The Prime Minister said that the Sri Lanka Air Force entered the four decade long war from the 1980s, after the terrorists began controlling territory and from that time until the end of the end of the war, the Sri Lanka Air Force played an indispensable role in the defence of Sri Lanka.
“When the LTTE concentrated all their forces and attacked isolated Army camps deep within enemy territory, Air Force pilots took enormous risks, taking helicopters into those camps to evacuate the injured and to supply arms. They also attacked the enemy from the air to relieve pressure on the beleaguered camp. The heroism of these pilots is now a part of the history of that war,” he said.
Rajapaksa said that the Air Force now plays a big role in relief operations during disasters such as floods. The Air Force also performs surveillance duties with regard to Sri Lanka’s coast and monitors foreign vessels entering Sri Lanka’s maritime zone. (Colombo Gazette)