The Sri Lanka Air Force(SLAF) successfully completed Phase II of the Simulated Maritime SAR Operation in co-ordination with Sri Lanka Navy(SLN) 10 Nm and 50 Nm off the coast of Sri Lanka by utilizing Bell 412 and Mi-17 Helicopters on 13 Nov 2019.
This was the first time that an SLAF Bell 412 Helicopter landed on the Deck of SLN Ship(SLNS) “Sindurala” while cruising at a speed of 12 Kts. The most challenging task in this exercise was to land SLAF Bell 412 helicopter on the Deck of “Sindurala” which was originally designed for Indian ALH/ Chetak Helicopters. SLAF pilots were successful in manoeuvring the helicopter and carried out 2 landings.
The other part of this exercise was to evacuate critically ill/ injured/ distressed person from a vessel from 50 Nm off coast. This exercise was simulated with SLNS ‘’Sindurala’’ utilizing SLAF Mi-17 Helicopter using a 65 Kg dummy. The dummy was winched up and down to the Deck Area of SLNS “Sindurala” while cruising at a speed of 12 Kts adhering to all the safety measures, thus preparing the groundwork for the next level of this exercise.
The strategic focus of this exercise was to enhance SLAF Maritime SAR capability gradually up to 200 Nm covering Sri Lankan EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) and FIR (Flight Information Region) as the only air arm in the country, utilizing its professionally trained Air and Ground Crews, Available Infrastructure, Research and Development Projects and new technologies.
This concept will have a significant impact on Sri Lanka’s Strategic Goal of becoming a Maritime and Flight Transitional Hub in the Indian Ocean Region providing maritime SAR services for Ships and aircraft transiting via its Controlled Zones.
The Phase III of Simulated Joint Maritime SAR Operation which includes live personnel winching is in the planning process and will be conducted in co-ordination with SLN and the Indian Air Force in the future.