Australian Defence Force (ADF) members embraced an opportunity to visit Sri Lanka’s largest air force base, Katunayake, as part of Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE19).

IPE19 Joint Task Force Commander Air Commodore Richard Owen and Australian personnel received a warm greeting from the base commander, Air Vice-Marshal Prasanna Payoe, and his executive team.

Discussions centred on the similarities and challenges each organisation shared.

“They were interested in our strong female representation, with 28 per cent of the IPE19 task force made up of women, covering a diverse range of roles,” Air Commodore Owen said.

“We discussed ADF recruitment and retention programs, including the recently launched campaign focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics – or STEM – career opportunities for the next tech-savvy generation.

“Both air forces shared a similar focus on people, building capacity to work together and support air power.”

Air Commodore Owen and his team toured the engineering wing, where Sri Lanka Air Force conducts training, trials and testing of different capabilities. 

“We were proud to showcase our highly effective joint team during our visit to Sri Lanka, but it was fantastic to be surrounded by blue uniforms again,” Air Commodore Owen said.

“Both air forces shared a similar focus on people, building capacity to work together and support air power.”

Leading Aircraftwoman Pia Sadler-Eriksson said the most enjoyable part was engaging with the Sri Lanka Air Force members.

“Their hospitality was warm and generous,” Leading Aircraftwoman Sadler-Eriksson said. 

“They present as a truly capable and professional organisation with a plethora of experience and knowledge in their field.

“IPE19 was my first deployment and this visit was a highlight. 

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working as part of a joint task force and the engagement activities with the Sri Lankan military.”