A 60th Anniversary salute to SLAF

By Kavan Ratnatunga

The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) completed 60 years and to mark the event, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka issue a commemorative two rupee coin into circulation on 2011 March 2nd.

The coin is minted to the existing standard of a Rs 2 coin which is nickel plated Steel and issued only in circulation condition was minted by the Royal Mint, Liantrisant, United Kingdom.

The obverse has the logo of the Sri Lanka Air Force 60th Anniversary at the center. The years `1951-2011' below. The words SRI LANKA AIR FORCE in Sinhala, Tamil and English appear at the top, left and right sides along the periphery. The logo has large 60 with the Armorial Ensign of Sri Lanka Air Force on the 6. An artist's impression of four planes used by the Sri Lanka Air Force. Below is the Chipmunk, used in its early days, and above are a Mil Mi-24 ground attack helicopter, Hercules C-130 transport aircraft and a F7 GS Thunderbolt fighter used currently. The reverse is the standard Rs 2 coin with date 2011

The obverse of coin designed by the Sri Lanka Air Force. It has clearly been inspired by the 50th Anniversary logo. The 50th anniversary Air Force 1 rupee coins of which only 2000 were minted and only 800 released to the public in 2001 March at Rs 600 was sold out in under one month, It is the most difficult Sri Lanka commemorative coin to find and are now sold by dealers for over Rs 15,000 if any come on the numismatic market.

The decision to issue the new coin was made too late to have them minted in time of the opening of the 60th Anniversary exhibition. An advance lot of only 93 coins arrived on March 1st, just in time for a few to be gifted to HE the President Mahinda Rajapakse and few other dignitaries at that event. A press release issued by CBSL on March 7th states that coins will be issued to public circulation in 2011 April. Mintage is listed as 3 Million in a docket printed by the Air Force.

The nice 60 page hard cover book in English with no adverts published for 60th Anniversary exhibition with the History of Air Force in Sri Lanka is sold by it's Museum for Rs500/-. It lists Wing Commander K. M. K. Keppetipola as organizing the First Day Cover and coin issue. A Rs 5 Stamp was also issued on the 2nd and the Bulletin published by the Philatelic Bureau lists Flying Officer Rasika Duminda for concept.

Large crowds went to see the Air Show, Exhibition and Carnival spread out over a large area of the Ratmalana Airport from 2011 March 2nd to 8th. The grand celebration was unfortunately dampened by the sad loss of two Kafir jets by a mid air collision during rehearsals on the day before the opening.

(The writer maintains an educational website on Lankan coins at http://coins.lakdiva.org and president of the Sri Lanka Numismatic Society).