Colombo (News 1st); It was during the height of the LTTE conflict in which the No 8 Tactical Transport Squadron was established on 2 April 1996 with Y-12 transport and B200 surveillance aircraft.
The squadron was an offspring of the No. 02 Squadron which was previously known as the 201 Squadron.
Prior to the establishment in 1996, the Squadron aircraft actively engaged in multifaceted combat support operations since 1987 and has been providing its yeoman service throughout the LTTE conflict and continues to provide its dedicated service to the nation.
The 15-seater Y-12 aircraft was utilized for many multitudes of air operations during the local theater of war with a minimum number of air and ground crew working relentlessly during day and night. Apart from the troop and logistic transportation, the Y-12 aircraft was utilized in Surveillance, Casualty evacuation, Medical evacuation, VVIP/VIP transport, search and rescue, food drops, and to convert pilots into the multi-engine platform.
Further, it was used in offensive air operations by dropping improvised bombs to the heart of the enemy land during the initial stage of the conflict due to the impaired number of attack aircraft.
Although initially a VIP transport aircraft, the King Air B200 aircraft was converted to a surveillance aircraft with sophisticated communication intelligence and Day/Night Camera in the year 1996.
Armed with another B200 aircraft in the year 2004, the aircraft was used as a forced multiplier in the field of Communication jamming and live imagery. The live imagery gained from the B200 aircraft was utilized through all levels of the conflict from the political-strategic level to the tactical level of the war.
Since the end of Humanitarian Operations in 2009, the squadron was entrusted with dynamic roles in the peacetime application of air power by providing valuable services to the national development in the following areas;
⦁Supporting law enforcement authorities to ensure national security by gathering information regarding unlawful and unwarranted activities over land and sea.
⦁Human Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Operations in the time of natural calamities.
⦁Collecting updates of development projects.
⦁Conducting domestic flying operations for civilian passengers.
⦁Cloud seeding experimental projects.
The squadron inventory was expanded in the year 2011 with the induction of two MA60 passenger aircraft under the flag of ‘Helitours’, the domestic air arm of the Air Force.
The aircraft is flown to enhance and boost the domestic aviation of Sri Lanka and conducts scheduled and chartered flights to several destinations on the Island.
The squadron aircraft have been flown by many former Commanders and in which notably the present Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana had contributed magnanimously in flying the Y-12 aircraft as a young pilot.
The squadron, with its proud and silent history, has provided a herculean task to the nation during the past 25 years and celebrates its gory today under the present Commanding Officer Group Captain Poojana Gunathilake with the ambition to serve the nation for future challenges with dedication and commitment.