Sniffer dogs deployed to strengthen airport security

Twenty sniffer dogs inducted to the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) have been deployed to the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake to strengthen security.

A passing out parade was held for the sniffer dogs on Wednesday (13) at the Air Dog Unit at the SLAF Base in Katunayake, which was presided by Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana.

The SLAF said the Air Dogs consist of 5 Belgian Malinois, 5 Labrador Retrievers, 5 German Shepherds, and 5 English Springer Spaniels.

They are specially trained as sniffer dogs in detecting narcotic substances and will be deployed at international airports.

These Air Dogs and their handlers were specially trained with joint support and expertise of the Sri Lanka Police Kennel Division in Asgiriya and the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, where they were trained with the use of live samples of explosive and narcotic substances for the first time. Financial assistance for these Air Dogs were provided by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka.

The SLAF further said the Air Dog Unit has a long history of service to the nation. Initially established on 23 August 1972, the Air Dog Unit was redesignated as the No. 48 Regiment Wing in 2012 and further redesignated as the Air Dog Wing in early 2013. As of 16 July 2013, to date, the unit is known as the SLAF Air Dog Unit. The unit is commanded by Wing Commander Niroshan Kumarasinghe.

The SLAF Air Dog Unit functions under the purview of the Director of Ground Operations and is actively involved in air field defense operations, search operations at all international airports of the country, search and rescue operations during situations of natural calamities, and explosives/narcotics detection operations.

In 1985, 12 Air Dogs were inducted and in 1998, another 17 Air Dogs were inducted from England. In 2006, another 12 Air Dogs were inducted from Germany and 10 more Air Dogs were inducted from the Netherlands in 2013.

The 20 Air Dogs that passed out this week (13) were inducted to the SLAF in the year 2020 and are also from the Netherlands. (Colombo Gazette)