Colombo: Air Vice Marshal Harsha Abeywickrema on Monday took over as Sri Lanka`s thirteenth commander of the Air Force.
He succeeded Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke, the only service chief who was in active military service among the three commanders who led the military to its victory over the LTTE.
Air Chief Marshall Goonetilake will continue to function as Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and will move to the Joint Operations Headquarters (JOH) on Monday.
The outgoing Commander had joined the Air Force as an officer cadet in the general duties pilot`s branch after completing his flying training and was later commissioned as a pilot officer. He was appointed as the 12th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force on June 11, 2006.
Abeywickrama is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Air Command, the Staff College and the Air University. He has completed a number of training courses and is a qualified flying instructor.
He commanded the No 1 Flying Training Wing and was the first commanding officer of the No 5 "Jet" Squadron when it was re established in 1991 following the acquisition of F-7 and F-5 fighters from China, Daily Mirror reported.
Prior to his appointment as Deputy Chief of Staff he served as the Director Air Operations.
Air Vice-Marshal Abeywickrama is a recipient of a number of gallantry medals --
Rana Wickrama Padakkama and the Rana Sura Padakkama for individual acts of bravery, the service medals Uttama Seva Padakkama and Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal.
Goonetilleke has shifted to the office of the chief of defence staff. He led airforce in the relentless air raid campaign on the LTTE installations which broke the back of their strength.