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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2620

India concerned, alerts its air defence system in the south

By M Rama Rao - Reporting for Asian Tribune from New Delhi

New Delhi, 27 March ( The technology demonstrator, the LTTE prefers to term its aerial raid on Lankan air force facility adjoining Colombo's Bandaranaike air port, has prompted India to keep its air defence system in Tamil Nadu and adjoining states in a state of high alert.

A considered view here is that LTTE air power display adds a new dimension to the ethnic 'war' in the island nation. And those Indian agencies will have to return to the drawing board to revisit their security plans for the south.

There are some experts who aver that LTTE's new fire power is not directed against India and hence there is no need to go into any overdrive.

A contrary view is taken by others who believe that LTTE threat to India is real and cannot be taken lightly.

The Sri Lankan defence spokesman appears to work on this sentiment when he told a TV channel shortly after the air raid on Monday morning that the Tigers pose a threat to all the nations in the region.

It is possible in the days ahead that Colombo will work on this theme to win over global support for its 'war' on the Tigers.

The LTTE has itself offered enough ammunition to Colombo with one of its spokesman saying that hence forth the Tigers would extend their aerial attacks to the northeast of the country.

President Rajapakse's immediate goal will be to take India on board his campaign.

Delhi is a reluctant to be pro-active and is confining itself to some homilies at regular intervals notwithstanding the emotions the ethnic issue raises in Tamil Nadu across the entire Dravidian political spectrum.

But the question is will the Tigers try to pressurize Delhi in its own inimitable way using its newly displayed military fire power. Opinion is divided as of now.

An agency report in the Indian media quoted a security official as saying on the condition of anonymity that if a LTTE aircraft could take off from Wanni area, fly all the way 400 kms to Colombo, bomb and return to base, then Tamil Nadu too could be easily accessed by the Tigers.

Tamil Nadu coast has a network of radar installations which keep an eagle eye on 'any foreign object'. So much so, it will not be easy for the Tigers to intrude into Indian air space. But then the Tigers' planes are known to fly low to avoid radar detection.

Significantly, only on Sunday, the Indian defence minister AK Antony has alerted the nation to the terrorist threats from the sea. While on a visit to Andaman & Nicobar Islands, he also spoke of threat to sea lanes from terrorists.

Some observers here note that only last week the Sri Lankan navy had claimed to have intercepted two vessels of the Sea Tigers that were carrying spares for aircraft and sunk them. In other words, the
interception inflicted little or no damage on Tigers capability to build and operate aircraft even if they are small and are of trainer variety.

That the LTTE has aircraft and that it has operationalised an airstrip deep inside the Wanni jungles is not a surprise revelation. This correspondent wrote in the Asian Tribune more than a year ago about this component of LTTE armory. That dispatch reported that LTTE uses Male airport as its transit point for overseas visits by its top brass.

LTTE air wing reportedly comprises at least one Czech made light aircraft, a Swiss trainer plane and some helicopters. The credit for building the Tigers' airpower goes to V Sornalingam, a fully trained aeronautic engineer, in the post- IPKF period. He was killed six years back.

-Asian Tribune -

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