A low-intensity conflict erupted into full-scale war in 1983 after bloody anti-Tamil rioting following the rebels' biggest attack to date when they blew up 13 soldiers.
Their aircraft may be small in size and number, but the daring night-time bombing mission on a key air force base beside Sri Lanka's only international airport strikes a significant psychological blow.
Not only did the Tigers operate two aircraft out of a secret base and bomb the well-guarded military airfield, they also managed to bring them home again before the air force's superior warplanes could shoot them down.
"The damage by this attack is not that much, but the psychological impact they have created is huge," said freelance defence columnist Namal Perera.
"You don't hear of guerrilla groups operating aircraft like this anywhere else.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said their first ever airborne attack was carried ou