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SRI LANKA AIR FORCE
GUARDIANS OF THE SKIES
footer_roundelDirector Air Operations
Director Training

Air Vice Marshal SK Pathirana
RWP and Bar, RSP and three Bars, USP, MSc (MOA), MSc (Def Stu) in Mgt, M Phil,   MIM(SL), ndc, psc, qfi

Sudarshana Karagoda Pathirana who hails from Kandy, completed his primary and secondary education at Dharmaraja College, Kandy. Upon completion of his higher education, he opted to join the rank and file of the Sri Lanka Air Force on the 02nd July 1985. He completed his Basic Ground Training and secured the award for the Best Cadet at the Ground Combat and Recruit Training Wing, SLAF Diyatalawa. He was one of the three pilots who were selected for advance flying training in Pakistan Air Force. As a student pilot of the 32nd Allied GD(P) Flying Training Course during the graduation he secured both the trophies given for Best in All-round and Best in Academics bringing glory to his motherland. He received his commission on 02nd January 1987 to the rank of Pilot Officer, in the General Duties (Pilot) Branch.

His operational career commenced as a reconnaissance pilot in the No 3 Maritime Squadron, based at SLAF Base China-Bay, which was responsible for anti-terrorist, anti-poaching, maritime surveillance and rescue, etc. In 1989 he was posted to the No 02 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 aircraft at No.05 Jet Squadron under the training of Chinese Instructors. 1990-1995 he held the positions of Officer Commanding Training and Officer Commanding Operations and also he is one of the first few pilots who experienced high altitude and supersonic flying. He was then selected to move on to the more advanced Kfir fighter jets, gaining invaluable training experience in the hands of the Israelis.  He took over duties as Officer Commanding Training, Officer Commanding Operations of the No 10 Fighter Squadron operating the Kfir fighter and later rose to become its Commanding Officer in 2002 – a position that he would hold until the humanitarian operation was in force in 2007. He has been actively participated in counter air and counter surface operations against the terrorist activities in Sri Lanka. He also had the unique opportunity to command the three fighter squadrons at one occasion in the year 2000 as the Commanding Officer of No 05 jet, No 10 Kfir Squadron and Acting Commanding Officer of No 12 Mig Squadron.  

He was selected to undergo the All purpose Qualified Flying Instructors’ Course in India in 1995 and became the first Sri Lankan Pilot who successfully completed the course. Withstanding the heavy operational workload, he also devoted his time to impart his flying experience on to the budding pilots at No 1 Flying Training Wing as a qualified Flying Instructor. His diverse flying career earned him the opportunity to undergo flying training In Pakistan, India, Israel as well as Ecuador exposing him to different flying methods and simulator training including anti-missile, laser designation and use of smart weapons.
In the year 2002, he earned the distinction of attending the esteemed Air Command and Staff College, Air University USAF, 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.

In the year 2004 he successfully read for his 2nd Masters degree (Defence Studies) in Management awarded by the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University.  Once again he proved his excellence where he rose to become the first in the order of merit over Army, Navy, Police officers as well as fellow Air Force colleagues.

In addition to his service career in Sri Lanka Air Force, he served as the first Defence Attaché in the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation from 2007 to 2009, where he gained experience in coordinating civil and military national requirements in international forums. During his tenure in Russia, he completed a Diploma in Air Field Management awarded by the University of Ukraine. Following this, he served at the Ministry of Defence as the Deputy Military Liaison Officer, coordinating vital activities of the three services with the general public, foreign, local governmental and non-governmental agencies covering post conflict nation building projects.

In January 2011 he attended the prestigious National Defence College, New Delhi, India which earned him the distinguished title “ndc” and was awarded a Master in Philosophy from the University of Chennai in 2012 and currently reading for his Doctorate with General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University. He is also alumni of Asia Pacific Strategic Studies in Hawai, USA.

In December 2011 he was appointed as the Commandant, Sri Lanka Air Force Academy, China Bay. In June 2013, he was appointed as the Base Commander of the Air Force Base Katunayake and in January 2016 he was posted as the Base Commander, Ratmalana. He was promoted to the present rank of Air Vice Marshal on the 1st of October 2016.

Air Vice Marshal SK Pathirana is a Fighter Pilot, Flying Instructor and an active operational flyer who has flown over 3500 flying hours over 10 types of aircraft, including Kfir and F 7s and also held the positions of Command Instrument Rating Examiner and Command Flight Safety Officer of Sri Lanka Air force.  In addition to his military flying career he holds a Commercial Pilot License and is a Flying Examiner for the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka.

 He has participated in almost all the major counter terrorist operations conducted in Sri Lanka and his bravery has been acknowledged through the award of the gallantry awards six times. To this date he could proudly reflect on the fact that he has logged the highest number of Kfir operational sorties for any SLAF pilot throughout the operational history of the fighter aircraft.  He is one of the few pilots who had been awarded with prestigious Green Endorsement in his flying log book by both Pakistani and Sri Lankan Air forces.

Apart from his professional flying career, he has contributed to uplift the sports in the SLAF as the Chairman of Athletics and is the current Chairman of Golf.

To date he has an unblemished career record with the Sri Lanka Air Force as the senior most fighter pilot and as the most senior qualified flying instructor in the fixed wing stream.

Air Vice Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana was appointed as the Director Air Operations on the 11th of January 2017 and is married to Charmini and they are blessed with two children, Bhashini and Vinura.





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