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F7 jet squadron celebrates 30-year service to nation

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…Over 600 strikes during 2006-2009 war

The No 5 Jet Squadron that carried over 600 air sorties celebrates its 30th anniversary today (Feb 1). The SLAF acquired Chinese jets in the wake of Eelam War II. SLAF headquarters yesterday (31) issued the following statement on the No 5 squadron: The No 5 was formed with the induction of two new FT-7 jet trainers based at Katunayake under the command of Sqn Ldr H.D. Abeywickrema. At the same year the fleet was enhanced by further acquisition a FT-7 trainer and four F-7 “Airguard” day fighters. These were the first jet aircraft added to the SLAF’s inventory since the retirement of Mig-17s and Jet provost T-Mk-51s which were used from 1970s. F-7BS was mainly designated for Battlefield Air Support for ground operations, Air Interception, Air Interdiction and Armed Reconnaissance roles.

“Sqn Ldr P Gunasinghe, Flt Lt SK Pathirana, Flt Lt IJI Wijetilleke and Flt Lt S Hendawitharane were first pilots in SLAF history to break the speed of sound and consider as the pioneers in the supersonic fighter age. The squadron’s initial operations commenced from SLAF Base Katunayake but was soon moved to SLAF China Bay in 1994 as measure of reducing the response time to act promptly for operational requirements. However, due to security concerns it was later resifted to its home Base Katunayake in 1996.

“As an extent of enhancing the No 5 Fighter Squadron’s Air Interdiction and specialized low level strike capability, six Russian MiG-27 and one MiG 23UB trainer were inducted to the squadron in 2000.

“2007 was a remarkable year to SLAF and to No 5 Fighter Squadron in terms of fleet enhancement. Modern F-7 GS which is the advanced version of F-7 BS in relation to avionics including an AI Radar, sophisticated weapons delivery system with Air to Air missile strike capability and user-friendly glass cockpit was inducted. 

“Much needed and well maintained SLAF air superiority over the nation was threatened with the emergence of LTTE air wing followed by the first air space intrusion in 26 March 2007. Newly introduced F-7 ‘Air guard’ fighter was called upon with expectations to live up to its literal reputation, being the first supersonic interceptor with air to air strike capability with PL-5E passive IR guided air to air missiles and 30mm cannon guns in its arsenal.

” In the course of the squadrons remarkable trail it has been commanded by ten Commanding Officers. Shouldering its responsibility as the cradle of fighter pilots the squadron has produced more than 25 pilots who were the front-line fighters to face the brutal enemy counter attacks, delivering tons of explosives to weaken the enemies’ moral to fight back in the prolonged Eelam war.

“No 5 Squadron has contributed its effort promptly and effectively whenever it was called upon with distinction and honour performing multitude Counter Air and Counter Surface Force Operations conducting an excess of 600 flying sorties during the humanitarian operation. The results of these efforts were clearly manifested in the nation’s ultimate victory over terrorism.

No 5 fighter Squadron continue to render its service to the nation as the leading air defence platform guarding the skies of our mother land and will continue to prosper in future with the newest updates and highly trained crew.”

 



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Geneva HR vote:

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UK, Canada seek to influence member states against Lanka

The Sri Lanka Core group members, Canada and the UK, are campaigning hard to muster support for their resolution against Sri Lanka at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council. Sri Lanka Core group consists of Canada, Germany, the UK, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Malawi.

Canada High Commissioner David McKinnon met the Bangladesh High Commissioner Tareq Ariful Islam, at the Canada House, Colombo 07.

Sources said that meetings between diplomats of those countries were rare. Bangladesh is a member o the f UNHRC. The meeting at the Canada House took place close on the heels of the UK HC Sarah Hulton meeting South Korean Ambassador Woonjin Jeong. South Korea is also a member of the UNHRC.

The 47-member UNHRC is divided into five groups on regional basis. The Asia-Pacific Group consists of Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Marshall Islands, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Korea and Uzbekistan; Western Europe and Other States consists of Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and UK; Eastern European States consists of Armenia, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia and Ukraine; Latin American and Caribbean States group consists of Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela and African States group consists of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Gabon, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and Togo. (SF)

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CEB Chairman: Country would have been facing daily power cuts if not for MR’s initiative

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by Ifham Nizam

The country would have been facing a daily power cut of eight hours if not for the initiative taken by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, when he was the President, to commence the first coal fired power plant complex at Norochcholai, said Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) Chairman Engineer Vijitha Herath at yesterday’s inauguration of the first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) power plant in Sri Lanka.

PM Rajapaksa was the Chief Guest at the event. The CEB head stressed that if not for the Norochchoali plant the country would have lost more than Rs. 100 billion annually.

Power Minister Dullas Alahaperuma said that since the construction of the Norochcholai power plant in 2013, no large scale power plant had been built.

“Today, we are paying for this. Only small hydro power plants and solar power plants have been added to the national grid,” Alahaperuma said.

The power minister said that the LNG plant was coming up at an important time and would bring great relief to the economy which was heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

“Let there be a power sector that is not dependent on fossil fuels. The new power plant has been constructed at Kerawalapitiya, Wattala. This has been designed in accordance with international standards with minimal environmental damage. This power plant will have the highest efficiency F class gas turbine installed. The Kerawalapitiya Power Plant is a dual cycle power plant and will be completed in two phases. The installation of the first phase, or gas turbine, will generate 220 MW, which will be completed within 21 months and added to the national grid.”

Alhaperuma said that the second phase would add another 130 megawatts to the national grid via a steam turbine, which was expected to be completed in 12 months. With a total capacity of 300 MW over the next three years, the plant was expected to meet the country’s growing electricity demand, he said.

Speaking at the event Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that the government wanted to provide electricity at affordable prices using the most advanced technology. There had been many delays in building power plants under the Yahapalana regime; but the current government would fast-track power projects, he added.

Minister Alahapperuma also said: “The LNG power plant will be a great relief to the economy. Renewable energy is the future. It was clearly mentioned in the President’s vision of prosperity as well as in the Mahinda Chinthana. Our goal is an economy fully armed with renewable energy.”

State Ministers Duminda Dissanayake, Susil Premajayantha, Nimal Lansa, Secretary to the Ministry of Power and Energy Wasantha Perera, LTL CEO of Lakdanavi Affiliates U.D. Jayawardena, and a large number of people’s representatives and government officials were present.

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US Secretary of State names Lankan for International Women of Courage (IWOC) award

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Lankan Human Rights Activist and Attorney-At-Law Ranitha Gnanarajah is among the recipients of this year’s International Women of Courage (IWOC) award presented by the United States Secretary of State.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will host the annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards virtual ceremony to honour a group of extraordinary women from around the world on Monday, March 8, at 10:00 am, the U.S. State Department announced.

The First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden will deliver remarks to recognize the courageous accomplishments of these women.

Now in its 15th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment – often at great personal risk and sacrifice, the US State Department says.

According to the biographies of the finalists for the 2012 IWOC Awards, Sri Lanka’s Ranitha Gnanarajah, a lawyer, and Head of the Legal Department of the Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) Sri Lanka continues to fight for and defend the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable communities in the country, despite threats and challenges by the state.

“Ranitha has dedicated her career to accountability and justice for victims of enforced disappearances and prisoners detained often for years without charge under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act by providing free legal aid and related services. As an individual personally affected by the conflict and based on her extensive experience working with victims and their families, Ranitha has demonstrated tremendous passion and dedication to justice and accountability, especially for Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable populations.”

From the inception of this award in March 2007, the Department of State has recognized more than 155 awardees from over 75 countries.

U.S. diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries, and finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials.

Following the virtual IWOC ceremony, the awardees will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) virtual exchange and connect with their American counterparts.

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