Pak. training Lankan pilots to clinch arms deal
New Delhi, May 20 (PTI): With LTTE air strikes worrying Colombo, Islamabad is reportedly making efforts to train batches of Sri Lankan pilots and get a guarantee for clinching an arms deal with the island nation.
A batch of five Sri Lankan pilots are being trained in Pakistan, while a Pakistani delegation led by former high commissioner Bashir Wali was in Colombo to help the nation's forces evolve a battle strategy against the Tamil insurgents.
It has now been almost established that LTTE has three Zlin-143 aircraft and one Robinson-22 helicopter. The Tamil insurgents also possess two microlights, Sri Lankan media reports said.
The Zlin-143 is a low-flying four-seat aircraft that has reportedly been modified as a two-seater to accommodate additional payload. The Tamil Tigers have also added improvised night-flying capability on these planes, they said.
The Sri Lankans, on the other hand, lack an integrated air defence capability and plan to induct J-7 fighter jets or loan them from the Pakistan Air Force, the reports said. The J-7 (Jian-7) is a Chinese derivative of the Russian MiG-21 which serves as an interceptor.
While Islamabad has decided not to loan its J-7 fighters to the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF), it is aiming at expediting a deal to sell 22 Al Zarar tanks to Sri Lanka in competition with Belarus and Ukraine, the reports said.