New Air Force Commander from Feb 28


Air Vice Marshal Kolitha Aravinda Gunatilleke

Air Vice Marshal Kolitha Gunathilake has been appointed commander of the Air Force from February 28.

According to Air Force official website, Air Vice Marshal Kolitha Aravinda Gunatilleke, is currently the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Air Force.

He joined the SLAF in 1980 as an Officer Cadet of the 8th  intake of Officer Cadets. He graduated from the Air Force Academy, China Bay in April 1982, and upon successful completion of basic and advanced flying training was awarded his flying brevet.

During his initial tour of duty he served with the No. 2 Transport Squadron.  In 1986 he underwent his Qualified Flying Instructor training with the Pakistan Air Force.  AVM Gunatilleke also flew SF 260 TP and Pucara ground attack aircraft extensively. He saw action regularly and was deployed in support of all ground operations carried out against the LTTE. In recognition of his bravery, courage and commitment, AVM Gunatilleke was awarded the Rana Wickrama Padakkama and Rana Sura Padakkama gallantry medals. 

Throughout his long flying career, where he contributed as a transport pilot, attack pilot and as an instructor, he has accumulated over 4,000 flying hours.

During his tenure with the SLAF AVM Gunatilleke holds the distinction of having undergone training at many prestigious overseas training establishments. A few notables amongst this long list are the Command and Staff College in Pakistan, Joint Air Warfare College in India, Air Command & Staff College in USA and National Defence College in Pakistan.  He has also attended the Executive Course at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, USA. He was also a member of the first batch who was conferred with the Master of Science (Defence Studies) degree in Management from the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University.

His ascent to the office of the Chief of Staff of the SLAF was paved through the appointments of Commandant No 01 Flying Training Wing, and Commanding Officer No 02 Transport Squadron. He had a stint of staff duties when he held the appointment of Staff Officer Operations at AFHQ. He then provided invaluable guidance, leadership and inspiration as Base Commander SLAF Base China Bay and subsequently as Base Commander SLAF Base Katunayake, the latter being the largest of all the SLAF bases. His first appointment of AFHQ was that of Director Training. He then functioned as Director Air Operations at AFHQ and directed all air operations during the conclusive stages of the humanitarian operation. He was awarded the following service Medals and Decorations: Vadamarachchi Medal  (1989), Armed Service Long Service Medal (1994), Riviresa Campaign Service Medal (1999), North & East Operation Medal (2000), SLAF 50th Anniversary (2001), Utthama Seva Padakkama (2003), Armed Service Long Service Clasp (2003), North & East Humanitarian  Medal (2011) and Vishishta Seva Vibushanaya  (2011).

AVM Gunatilleke excelled in sports and was a member of the Badminton National Pool. He joined the administration of sports and has held many appointments in SLAF Sports bodies and national associations as follows: President National Rifle Association of Sri Lanka from 2007 to 2009, Chairman Selection Committee-Badminton in 2010, and Chairman National Selection Committee from 2011 to date.

AVM Kolitha Gunatilleke is married to Roshani and they are blessed with a daughter, Anushka. In his times of leisure and relaxation, he enjoys music, social dancing and reading.

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