SLAF transports 3.5 tonne Buddha statue to Mulkirigala | Daily News


SLAF transports 3.5 tonne Buddha statue to Mulkirigala

Pictures courtesy SLAF
Pictures courtesy SLAF

An MI-17 helicopter from the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) No. 6 Squadron on Friday airlifted the heaviest external load it has ever taken on in an underslung operation. 

 An eight-foot-tall Buddha Statue which weighed a mammoth 3.5 tonnes was airlifted from the Weeraketiya Mandaduwa Grounds to the Mulkirigala Raja Maha Viharaya mountain peak. The Buddha statue was airlifted for an approximate distance of three nautical miles. 

The Mulikirigala Temple is located at a height of 270 metres and the SLAF effectively employed the heavy airlift capabilities of MI-17 helicopters to transport the Buddha statue to the designated site. 

The MI-17 helicopter is specifically designed to deliver military, civilian or material payloads to locations where surface forces cannot deliver. The MI-17 helicopters of the SLAF displayed the fundamental role of air power enabling operations where the heavy lift capabilities of the MI-17 was effectively utilised in delivering a heavy material payload.  

This historical operation was conducted on the instructions of the Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias under the supervision of the Directorate of Air Operations.  

The helicopter which conducted this historical underslung operation was captained by Group Captain Priyamal Fernando, the Commanding Officer of the No. 6 Squadron while Wing Commander Venu Silva operated the helicopter as the co-pilot. A crew of 20 officers and airman also participated in making this operation a success.  

In addition to the special effort by the aircrew, a specially designed lifting platform was designed and manufactured by the General Engineering Wing at the SLAF Base in Katunayake under the guidance of the Commanding Officer, Group Captain Indika Wickramasinghe to facilitate the airlift operation of this Buddha Statue. 

The design of this lifting platform was verified to be capable of handling such a large weight by qualified engineering officers of the Sri Lanka Air Force and the State Engineering Cooperation before being deployed for the actual mission. 

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