Commander of The Sri Lanka Air Force
RSP and two Bars, VSV, USP, MSc (MOA) USA, MSc (Def Stu) in Mgt, MA in IS&S (UK), BSc (Def Stu), MIM (SL), AMIE (SL), rcds, psc

Air Marshal Rajapaksa Appuhamillage Udeni Priyadarshana Rajapaksa, a distinguished military officer, was born on 29 January 1969, in Ihalagama, Gampaha District in Western Province of Sri Lanka. He received his primary education at Bandarawatta Parakrama Maha Vidyalaya, Gampaha and Bandaranayake College, Gampaha. Continuing his academic journey, he pursued his secondary education at Ananda College, Colombo. Displaying a strong commitment to serving his country, he joined the military service as an Officer Cadet of the 6th Intake of General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Ratmalana on 6 October 1988.  

The young Officer Cadet underwent Basic Combat Training and pursued undergraduate studies as a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at the Kotelawala Defence University.Afterward, he successfully completed Basic Flying Training at No. 1 Flying Training Wing SLAF Base Anuradhapura, where he excelled and was recognized as the Best Flight Cadet in the 33rd Flight Cadets' Course. Following this achievement, he progressed to No. 2 Squadron,SLAF Base Ratmalana, for Advanced Flying Training. On 5 October 1990, he was commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer in the General Duties Pilots Branch.

His expertise as a pilot extends to a remarkable range of aircraft. He holds the distinction of being a VVIP Captain Pilot and is qualified in ten types of aircraft, including the CESSNA-150, HARBIN Y-12,HS-748, SF-260TP, IA-58 PUCARA, B-200T, AN-32 and C-130. Throughout his career, he has accumulated over 7,000 flying hours, encompassing both combat and combat support missions. Notably,he demonstrated his resilience and ingenuity during a night bombing sortie he had to eject from his FMA IA 58 Pucara ground-attack and counter-insurgency aircraft due to a premature ordnance detonation that had occurred in 1997. He has been commended for his outstanding handling of the serious emergency situation during that mission, earning him recognition from Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. and the privilege to join as an "Ejectee" in the esteemed "Ejection Tie Club." Further demonstrating his proficiency in flying, Air Marshal Rajapaksa was awarded the Green Endorsement for commendable handling and safely landing his HARBIN Y-12 that was faced with a grave emergency. In appreciation of his higher level of experience and accomplishment in Instrument Flying and having displayed superior airmanship, he was awarded the "Master Green Instrument Rating". Additionally, he holds an "Airline Transport Pilots License (ATPL)" the highest license that an individual can earn as a civil aircraft pilot. 

Air Marshal Rajapaksa, in his pursuit of professional excellence, successfully completed the Junior Command and Staff Course at the Command and Staff Training Institute in Bangladesh. Moreover,he followed the Flight Safety Officers Course in Pakistan and the Advanced Security Cooperation Course in the United States. He is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies in the United Kingdom. Displaying his commitment to academic excellence, he obtained a Master of Science in Defence Studies in Management from General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, achieving a "Merit Pass." Further, he holds a Master of Science in Military Operational Art and Science from the Air University in Alabama, USA, and a Master of Arts in International Security and Strategy from King's College, London, UK, with "Merit Pass" distinction. Additionally, he is a distinguished alumnus of the Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Alabama, USA, having earned accolades for graduating from the Air Command and Staff College.

In recognition of his distinguished conduct in the face of the enemy, Air Marshal Rajapaksa has been awarded the prestigious gallantry medal "Rana Sura Padakkama" on three occasions. Moreover, for his exceptional, distinguished and loyal service, Air Marshal Rajapaksa has been honoured with the "Vishishta Seva Vibhushanaya "medal as well as the “Uttamma Seva Padakkama" medal for valuable service and devotion to duty in exceptional ability, merit and exemplary conduct.

Throughout his career, Air Marshal Rajapaksa held various significant appointments. He served as the Base Commander at SLAF Base Hingurakgoda from 1 May 2011 to 8 June 2012. Subsequently, he undertook the crucial role as the Counsellor (Defence) at the Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation from 2012 to 2014. Following his tenure in Russia, he was appointed as the Senior Air Staff Officer on 21 April 2014. Later, on 1 September 2015, he assumed the role of Base Commander at SLAF Base Vavuniya. Additionally, he served as Air Secretary to the 16th Commander of the Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Kapila Jayampathy, from 12 September 2016 to 23 August 2017 and again from 7 August 2018 to 30 June 2019.

Air Marshal Rajapaksa's leadership continued to flourish as he assumed command of various Air Bases. Notably, in 2020, he held the appointment as the Commandant of the SLAF Academy in China Bay and subsequently took on the role of Eastern Air Commander. Later, he assumed responsibilities as the Base Commander of SLAF Base Katunayake, Southern Air Commander and Overall Operations Commander (Air Defence) during his tenure at SLAF Base Katunayake. During that period, his highly proficient and dedicated approach led to remarkable contributions in effectively managing over 650 COVID patients, ensuring their successful treatment and care without disrupting the effective function of the Base, amidst the challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Progressing further,he became a Member of the Air Force Board of Management as the Director Air Operations from 14 February 2022 to 26 September 2022 and subsequently, he shouldered the esteemed appointment of Chief of Staff in the Air Force from 27 September 2022 to 29 June 2023 before assuming duties as the 19th Commander of the Air Force.

Beyond his military achievements, Air Marshal Rajapaksa is an avid sportsman who has represented the Sri Lanka Air Force in table tennis, tennis and golf. He also held the Chairmanship of Sri Lanka Air Force Athletics. His prowess in golf was particularly noteworthy, earning him the Championship at the Commander's Cup Golf, Eagles' Challenge Trophy, in 2021. Furthermore, his exceptional performances in playing golf at the 11th and 12th Defence Services Games in 2021 and 2023, brought him notable recognition in the sport. In acknowledgment of his sporting achievements, he was awarded Air Force Colours for tennis and golf in the years of 2010 and 2021 respectively. Air Marshal Udeni Rajapaksa is married to Enoka and is the loving father of Miyuni and Inura. 

Career timeline -
• 1988 - Joined as an Officer Cadet in Intake 06th KDU
• 1990 - Commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer
• 1992 - Operational pilot – No 2 Heavy Transport Squadron
• 1995 - Operational pilot – No 1 Flying Training Wing
• 1998 - Operational pilot – No 8 Light Transport Squadron
• 2002 - Operational pilot – No 2 Heavy Transport Squadron
• 2007 – Directing Staff, Defence Services Command and Staff College
• 2010 – Commanding Officer, No 2 Heavy Transport Squadron
• 2011 - Base Commander, Sri Lanka Air Force Base Hingurakgoda
• 2012 – Counsellor (Defence), Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Russian Federation
• 2014 – Senior Air Staff Officer, Directorate of Air Operations
• 2015 – Base Commander, Sri Lanka Air Force Base Vavuniya
• 2016 – Air Secretary, Sri Lanka Air Force
• 2019 – Commandant, Sri Lanka Air Force Academy China Bay
• 2020 – Base Commander, Sri Lanka Air Force Base Katunayake
• 2022 – Director Air Operations, Sri Lanka Air Force
• 2022 – Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Air Force  

Education / Qualifications / Distinctions -
• BSc- Electrical Engineering - General Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy
• Junior Command and Staff Course, Command and Staff Training Institute, Bangladesh
• Flight Safety Officers’ Course, Pakistan
• Master Degree – Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, United States of America
• C-130 Flight Simulator Training Course, Indonesia
• Graduate – Institute of Management – Sri Lanka
• Advanced Security Cooperation Course, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America
• Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) Course, London, United Kingdom
• MSc – Management – Merit pass – General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University
• MSc – Military Operational Art and Science – Merit pass – Air University, United States of America
• MA – International Security & Strategy – Merit pass - King’s College, London, United Kingdom 
• Member - Institute of Management - Sri Lanka
• Associate Member - Institution of Engineers - Sri Lanka

Decorations and Awards -
• Rana Sura Padakkama and two Bars
• Vishishta Seva Vibhushanaya
• Uttama Seva Padakkama
• Videsha Seva Padakkama
• Sri Lanka Air Force 50th Anniversary medal
• Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal and clasp
• Sevabhimani Padakkama
• Seva Padakkama
• 50th Independence celebration medal
• East Humanitarian medal and clasp
• North Humanitarian medal and clasp
• North and East Operations medal and Clasp
• Purna Bhumi Padakkama
• “Operation Riviresa” Campaign medal
• 75th Independence Anniversary Commemoration Medal  



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