Sri Lanka buying missiles - report
[TamilNet, Friday, 18 December 1998, 12:09 GMT]
Sri Lanka is buying Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) and radar systems, according to the latest issue of the military industry publication, Jane's Defence Weekly. Reports that the Liberation Tigers have acquired an air capability "have forced the Sri Lanka government to hurriedly procure air-defence systems" said the JDW.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) "has called for tenders for surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), air-defence guns, short-range battlefield surveillance radars, mobile air-defence radars and thermal imagers" says JDW.
The JDW report by Iqbal Athas, a leading Sri Lankan defence correspondent, cites Sri Lankan military intelligence sources confirming that the Tigers as having acquired "a two-seater fixed wing aircraft and a small helicopter"
"We are yet to identify their make and origin though we suspect they were smuggled in in a knocked-down condition and assembled in the Wanni jungles" the sources told JDW.
The Liberation Tigers also announced at the end of November that aircraft of the 'Air Tigers' had taken part in this year's Heroes' Day celebrations.
A warning sent by the Sri Lankan Air Force's Air Defence Command and Control Centre said pictures showed one of the aircraft to be similar to a US manufactured Robinson R44 Astro light helicopter, said JDW.
"Since the suspected aircraft is confirmed to be a helicopter which could fly at high altitudes, carrying, say, a payload of 200kg of explosives, dropping it in a selected area is a strong possibility," the centre warned.
The centre also noted that "the possibility of attaching a medium calibre gun on the aircraft to fire on selected targets cannot be ruled out."
Sri Lanka's armed forces have no SAMs and rely for air defence on Bofors 40mm L/60 and L/70 guns, said JDW.