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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2675

Sri Lanka: Most valuable hardware destroyed with the two ships were aircraft parts that alarms Defense Experts

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 20 March, ( The cargo destroyed with the two LTTE ships by the Sri Lanka Navy off Sri Lanka’s Eastern coast has once again drawn the attention of the South Asian defense community to the Tamil Tiger’s attempt to build its air force.

According to intelligence reports some of the most expensive military hardware destroyed with the ships was aircraft spare parts or parts necessary to assemble light aircrafts.

By these shipments the LTTE has attempted to improve the airworthiness of its existing fleet of airplanes and military helicopters or add few more aircraft to its fleet. The LTTE is the only terrorist group in the world capable of flying , thanks to the Ceasefire Agreement that allowed them to build one although it violated the agreement and millions collected in the West to buy arms and ammunition.

Sri Lanka navy sources said that the first ship destroyed was 70 meters long and the second ship destroyed was 50 meters long. In the initial reports both ships were reported as 70 meters long erroneously.

Navy sources said according to the information of the Navy the first ship contained 1500 tons and the second ship contained 1000 tons of arms, ammunition and aircraft parts.

It is estimated by the Navy that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has lost about US $ 7.9 million dollars worth of cargo in both ships. Sources said the cargo ships are worth about US $ 15 million dollars. With the ships went down 24 Sea Tigers who were very much trained in arms smuggling and sailing activities that were of immense value to the Tamil Tigers.

Unlike in the LTTE arms ships destroyed by the Sri Lanka Navy off the Dondra head more than two weeks ago the boxes of cargo were packed inside the ship making the explosions inside that turned the ship upside down, before sinking navy sources said. That prevented the debris of the ship’s cargo floating in the sea like last time, the sources further said.

Navy sources pointed out; according to information received, the ship contained a cargo of airplane parts, anti-aircraft missiles, rocket propelled grenades and other artillery missiles and tons of high explosives. Both ships were proceeding to Mulativu from the seas of Indonesia.

The destruction of the two ships is considered a further step started by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government to give priority to completely destroy the air power of the LTTE which had been untouched before, mainly due to religiously following the Norway brokered Ceasefire Agreement.

In 1998 , the semi official organ of the LTTE, the Tamil Net said the aircraft of the Air Tiger Wing of the LTTE dropped flowers on the graves of the slain LTTE cadres in Mulliyawalai on November 27 1998.

The Voice of the Tigers, a clandestine radio, in its broadcast said that while the aircraft were flying LTTE cadres watched the ceremony with their anti-aircraft guns ready.

Following the assassination attempt on the life of Army Commander Sarath Fonseka the government sent its fighter jet aircraft of Mig 27 ‘s and Kfirs to bomb and destroy the Iranamadu airstrip South of the Iranamadu tank.

Intelligence photos later showed pock marked craters along the airstrip. The Sri Lankan intelligence services knew that the Tamil Tigers possessed at least two light aircrafts and two small helicopters. In Indian intelligence reports they were identified as Czech built Zlin-143 aircrafts and two small helicopters of R44 type .

Later the Sri lanka Air Force jets pounded on the second airstrip in Pudukuduiruppu which is 1250 meters long. But intelligence report shows even after the bombing the LTTE has been repairing the damages at both airstrips.

Fully using and violating the Norway monitored Ceasefire Agreement; the LTTE also has built a third airstrip at Pilaikudirippu in the South East of the second airstrip.

The LTTE’s attempt to bring in more aircraft parts and the airstrips still being repaired in the Vanni show the LTTE’s determination to build its Air Wings despite set backs.

- Asian Tribune -

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