Sri Lanka: Fulcrums & Lions to Battle Tigers?

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Zlin Z-143L(click to view full) Sri Lanka’s fight against the Tamil Tigers has not generally been viewed as having an air to air combat dimension. Raids by propeller-driven aircraft in March and April changed that calculus, however; a military base next to the country’s only international airport was hit in March, and an April strike against oil facilities near the capital of Colombo led to a blackout and mistaken targeting of a passenger jet. The LTTE planes were believed to be Czech-made Zlin Z-143s. Though little damage was done, the attacks and their consequences to date implicitly threaten to shut down the island’s 3rd largest industry – its $410 million per year tourism trade. Shades of Carl Gustaf von Rosen and his remarkable Biafran Air Force operations. A war widely seen as a government against a guerrilla & terrorist group with global reach is about to acquire a decidedly conventional dimension. Sri Lanka may not be the last country to face this issue, either; see SAAG’s “The Real Implications Of Possession Of Air Capability By LTTE,” and Lanka Newspapers’ “Air capabilities of global terror groups and non-formal States.” Which is why Sri Lanka’s chosen approach will be instructive, no matter […]

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