Sri Lanka buying advanced fighter jets from Russia - paper
[TamilNet, Sunday, 06 May 2007, 11:50 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s air force is shortly to take delivery of five advanced fighter aircraft from Russia to counter the threat posed by the LTTE’s air wing, The Nation newspaper reported Sunday. In addition to buying the five MiG 29 interceptors, Sri Lanka is looking to upgrade its ground attack Kfirs to interceptor role by adding radars and missiles, the paper said.
“Though the Sri Lankan officials were in talks with their Indian, Pakistani and Chinese counterparts, it is reliably learnt that the new MiG 29s joining the air force, are from Russia,” the paper said, adding that India has been manufacturing the interceptor since the 1980s.
The average price in the world market of the MiG 29 is in the range of US$ 15 million, it said.
The MiG 29 fighter aircraft designed in the former Soviet Union, for an air superiority role entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983. It is now in use with the Russian Air Force (which reportedly has over 450), as well as in many other nations, including India (which has over 60).
The MiG 29 was mainly produced to counter leading US fighter aircraft such as the F15 and F16 and in most of its variants has only an air to air strike capacity, the The Nation said. “If the necessary upgrades are not carried out on the newly acquired aircraft, their role would be limited to intercepting the LTTE’s light aircraft, with limited contribution to the main task of the SLAF, which is ground attack.”