Sri Lanka To Call International Bids For Buying Eight Multi-role Fighter Aircraft

  • Our Bureau
  • 04:11 PM, August 13, 2016
  • 6096
Sri Lanka To Call International Bids For Buying Eight Multi-role Fighter Aircraft
Sri Lankan air force Kfir fighter: file photo

Sri Lanka plans to invite proposals from international fighter aircraft manufacturers to buy eight multi-role fighter aircraft to replace a largely grounded fleet of its air force.

Quoting cabinet minister Rajitha Senaratne, Sri Lankan publication Economynext said on August 10 that the multi-role fighters would be used for national defence and maritime protection requirements.

Sri Lanka had earlier shown interest in buying eight Pakistan-made JF-17 aircraft and reports said that Islamabad and Colombo were close to a deal in late 2015. However, India is supposed to have offered its LCA Tejas fighter plane which has just entered Indian Air Force service and Sri Lanka had held back on the JF-17 purchase.

An Indian newspaper, Indianexpress had reported in January this year that stiff opposition from India has forced Sri Lanka to drop plans to buy JF-17 Thunder from Pakistan. New Delhi is reported to have shot off a diplomatic missive to Colombo on why it should not buy the JF-17 Thunder.

However, other reports said that Pakistan was unable to meet Colombo’s demand for a credit-line to buy the JF-17 fighters and that the island nation had approached Russia and was seeking similar terms to buy either Mig-29 or Su-30 fighters.

Pakistan appears to have re-started its pitch to sell the JF-17. The Pakistan Air Force Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman recently made an official two-day visit to Sri Lanka on an invitation from Air Marshal G.P Bulattsinghala, the CAS of the Sri Lankan Air Force. While an official statement from Colombo said “matters of mutual interest were discussed,” the JF-17 could have been high on the agenda.

Although the Sri Lankan Air Force has seven Israeli-made Kfir fighters in its books, only one is now operational. The aircraft had last been used to provide air cover the army and navy during the war against the LTTE in 2009. In addition, it has an unspecified number of Mig 23s, Mig 27s and  F-7DS, none of which is supposed to be operational.

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