Sri Lanka Military


The defense (2006) of Sri Lanka comprises approximately 111,000 men enlisted, including (in view of the uncertain domestic situation) 39,000 men summoned reserves. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that LKA stands for Sri Lanka. The defense is organized in 37 brigades, including 1 airborne and 2 command brigades, 60 smaller fighters, 21 fighter aircraft and 14 armed helicopters. Semi-military security/police forces amount to 61,000 men and a national guard of 15,000 men and a home defense of 13,000 men. The material is semi-modern and of mixed Soviet, Chinese, Indian and to some extent Western origin.

Sri Lanka Army

Defense costs rose from 3.8 to 6.5% in 1985-96, to 2.4% of GDP in 2006. The armed opposition LTTE, the “Tamil Tigers”, has 8,000 to 11,000 men at its disposal. Sri Lanka participates in UN peacekeeping efforts in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti (MINUSTAH), Sudan and Western Sahara.

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Sri Lanka’s defense overview

The role of the armed forces in Sri Lanka, after defeating the Tamil Tigers, has increased the focus on internal security. Sri Lanka participates in UN operations. The total force figure for Sri Lanka’s armed forces is 255,000 active personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, about 62,200 semi-military forces, including police forces and about 15,000 in the National Guard.


The Army has 177,000 active personnel, including reservists. Heavier materials include 62 tanks of a T-55, 62 armored cars, of 211 armored personnel carriers, and a medium-heavy drone.

Air Force

The Air Force has a workforce of 28,000 active personnel. Material includes five fighters of a F-7, one fighter central Kfir, 21 transport, 14 trainers (which seven K-8 can also be used as light combat aircraft), 45 helicopters (including 11 combat helicopters of the type Mi-24), and at least two medium-heavy drones.

The Navy

The Navy has a workforce of 50,000 active personnel, including reservists and 500 Marines. The fleet includes 128 patrol vessels, nine landing craft and three auxiliary vessels.

International operations

In 2018, Sri Lanka participated in UN operations in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with 115 personnel and six observers, in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 150 personnel, in Mali (MINUSMA) with 200 personnel and seven observers, and in South Sudan (UNMISS) with 172 personnel, one field hospital and observers.

Sri Lanka’s foreign policy

Sri Lanka has been committed to strengthening its diplomatic, economic and military ties with other countries in the region, in Asia. The country has been a driving force for regional cooperation, including through the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Sri Lanka also cooperates with the US, Russia and the EU. The country participates in several multilateral organizations such as the United Nations (UN), Commonwealth of States, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank.

Sri Lanka’s foreign policy has always been characterized by the country’s alliance-free status, but the freedom of alliance has been defined somewhat differently by the two largest parties. UNP governments have most often had a more pro-Western attitude than the more left-leaning People’s Alliance, which has emphasized close relations with China, among others.