Anuradhapura losses worse than Katunayake’s - Athas

[TamilNet, Saturday, 27 October 2007, 21:24 GMT]
Two dozen aircraft of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) were destroyed or damaged when Black Tiger commandos stormed the Anudradhapura airbase in the early hours last Monday, the Sunday Times reports. Ten aircraft were completely destroyed while fourteen others were damaged, some beyond repair, the paper’s defence correspondent, Iqbal Athas, said in his column this week. All but three of the 27 aircraft in the base were destroyed or damaged, the paper said, publishing pictures of incinerated aircraft on the runway and in the hanger. Meanwhile press reports said India was supplying anti-aircraft guns to Sri Lanka.

Destroyed SLAF craft
Burnt out remains of a Chinese built K-8 (Photo: Sunday Times)

The cost of the losses at the airbase could be anything above an estimated US$ 30 million or over three billion rupees, based on prices paid years earlier, the paper said. “However, the replacement prices would be very much higher. This is not only because the prices have since gone up. In addition, the rupee equivalent to the dollar has also risen.”

Only three Mi-17 troop transport helicopters parked some distance away from the fighting escaped, he said.

Comparing the damage caused during the attack on the SLAF airbase in Katunayake (without losses to Sri Lankan Airlines) and the one at Anuradahapura, Athas said: “The guerrillas caused more damage at Anuradhapura since the losses there are higher. It must also be remembered that during the attack at Katunayake, the guerrillas were unable to enter the "V" (or Vulnerable) area, which was the hangar. The damage they caused was by directing fire from the runway. However, at Anuradhapura the attackers entered the hangar to cause damage.”

Meanwhile, press reports said Friday India has supplied anti-aircraft guns to Sri Lanka with the situation in the island state was described as "turbulent" by the new Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor.

Two propeller driven aircraft of the newly unveiled Tamileelam Air Force (TAF) bombed the airbase during the LTTE attack.

Colombo has made number of requests for arms supplies and the Indian government was looking at these, Gen. Kapoor was quoted by PTI as saying. He also said that India was training personnel of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

These are the losses detailed by the Sunday Times:

Aircraft destroyed inside the hangar:

  • Two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These were brand new and were yet to be included in the Air Force inventory. They had been brought for acceptance trials "without obligation" by the Israeli supplier, Blue Horizon.
  • One Mi-17 troop transport helicopter. It is virtually reduced to ashes with only bigger parts remaining.
  • Four Chinese built PT-6 basic trainers.

Aircraft destroyed near the runway (outside the hangar):

  • One US built Beechcraft 200. This was originally purchased in 1985 as a VIP transport aircraft. In 1995, it was modified into a surveillance aircraft with expensive equipment being installed. They included costly cameras and other sophisticated devices
  • One Chinese built K-8 intermediate jet trainer.
  • One Mil Mi-24 helicopter gun ship.

Aircraft damaged inside the hangar:
  • One Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) belonging to SLAF.
  • Three PT-6 basic trainer aircraft.
  • Five K-8 intermediate jet trainer aircraft.
  • Four unserviceable Italian built Siai Marchetti (Warrior) propeller driven bombers.
Aircraft damaged alongside the runway:

  • One Mi-24 helicopter gunship


External Links:
SundayTimes: Pre-dawn Pounce by Iqbal Athas


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