Sri Lanka Air Force is to establish new bases at two former LTTE air strips at Iranamadu and at Mulliyawali near Mullaitivu. The Lankapuvath news item (26th of May 2009) about this latest development has only two details:
- The Iranamadu airstrip (made famous by the first LTTE air raid on Colombo in 2007) will be a “small air base with a station”.
- The larger 1.5 km Mulliyawali airstrip (details on the Lone Ranger blog) will be “developed for the use of Sri Lanka Air Force”.
Despite their military nature, these developments hint at an opportunity for Sri Lanka’s tiny civil aviation industry to blossom.
Sri Lanka’s aviation infrastructure has always been a “civilianisation” of military developments. Most of the country’s current airfields were created as military airbases during World War 2. Even during the war, the military and civilian aviation literally shared the same runways – particularly at Katunayaka and Ratmalana. A “peace time” Sri Lanka Air Force could see an expansion of that pattern to include new and existing airstrips.
During the last 30 years of war, any form of non military aviation was subject to tight security restrictions. Yet programs such as the “Ruhunu Open Skies” manage to putter on despite the set backs – indicating a determination of the domestic aviation industry to survive in the face of adversity. It also point to a history coordination between military and civilian aviation that could become easier if not profitable in peace time. Capt. G. A. Fernando’s article about the hopes for peace time general aviation in Sri Lanka covers the possibilities in broad strokes. How such things will be realised is of course a matter of time and evolution.