The Air Dog Unit at SLAF Base Katunayake held a Passing Out Parade today (13 January 2021) for the newly inducted Air Dogs of the Unit. The event was held at Katunayake and the Commander of the Air Force, Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana reviewed the parade as the Chief Guest.
The SLAF Air Dog Unit has a long history of service to the nation. Initially established on 23 August 1972 the Air Dog Unit was re-designated as the No 48 Regiment Wing in 2012 and further re-designated as the Air Dog Wing in early 2013. As off 16 July 2013 to date the unit is known as the SLAF Air Dog Unit. The unit is commanded by Wing Commander Niroshan Kumarasinghe. The SLAF Air Dog Unit functions under the purview of the Director Ground Operations and is actively involved in Air Field Defence Operations, Search Operations at all International Airports of the country, Search and Rescue Operations during situations of natural calamities and Explosive/Narcotic Detection Operations.
In 1985, 12 Air Dogs were inducted and in 1998 another 17 Air Dogs were inducted from England. In 2006 another 12 Air Dogs were inducted from Germany and 10 more Air Dogs were inducted from the Netherlands in 2013. The 20 Air Dogs who passed out today were inducted to the SLAF in the year 2020 also from the Netherlands. These Air Dogs are made up of 5 Belgian Malinois, 5 Labrador Retrievers, 5 German Shepherds and 5 English Springer Spaniels. They are specially trained as sniffer dogs in detecting narcotic substances and will be deployed at International Airports.
These Air Dogs and their handlers were specially trained with joint support and expertise of the Sri Lanka Police Kennel Division in Asgiriya and the National Dangerous Drugs Control Board where they were trained with the use of live samples of explosive and narcotic substances for the first time. Financial assistance for these Air Dogs were provided by the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka.
Today’s parade was attended by the Director Ground Operations, Air Vice Marshal Camillus Labrooy and a limited number of senior officers of the SLAF due to health restrictions which are in place.