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 Post subject: Tiger launch air raid on oil targets in Colombo
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 1:49 pm 
Tiger launch air raid on oil targets in Colombo

"Tamil Tiger aircraft came and dropped three bombs," an air force spokesman said, adding one fell on the Kolonnawa oil facility 3 miles north of Colombo. Two others hit the Kerawalapitiya oil storage site, 10 miles north of the city. No damage was done at Kolonnawa but the Kerawalapitiya facility suffered slight damage.

@ Agencies

COLOMBO - Planes of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels dropped bombs on two oil facilities near the capital Colombo on Sunday, slightly damaging one, the air force said.

Residents said they heard explosions and firing as the military responded to the air raid. Hospital officials said two people who worked at a power station were being treated for gunfire wounds.

"Tamil Tiger aircraft came and dropped three bombs," an air force spokesman said, adding one fell on the Kolonnawa oil facility 3 miles north of Colombo. Two others hit the Kerawalapitiya oil storage site, 10 miles north of the city.

No damage was done at Kolonnawa but the Kerawalapitiya facility suffered slight damage, the spokesman said.

A Tamil Tiger spokesman said two of their aircraft carried out the raids, hitting both targets before returning safely to base.

Residents said power to the city had been cut.

Sri Lanka's military went on alert when radar detected suspect aircraft.

"I can hear gunfire. I can see flashes going up into the sky above the city," a witness said. Residents said they had heard two explosions.

Some residents said they saw gunfire being directed at a plane flying overhead.

A Reuters correspondent at Colombo international airport said passengers had been told to get off their flights but were later told to re-embark.

SECURITY ALERT

The security alert occurred after a similar one late on Thursday when Sri Lankan authorities temporarily closed the international airport after reports suspicious planes were seen flying south along the coast.

That air raid scare occurred two days after the Tamil Tiger rebels' newly unveiled air wing staged its second attack ever, dropping bombs on a military position in the north and killing six people.

The tigers first air strike was on the air force base next to Colombo airport, and it took the military by surprise.

Analysts believe the Tamil Tigers' air force consists of just two to five light propeller planes assembled from pieces smuggled in over time.

Tiger planes targeted two oil storage facilities because they provided fuel to Sri Lankan forces, tiger spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan said.


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 Post subject: Emirates, Cathay Pacific suspend Sri Lanka flights
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:17 pm 
Airlines suspend Sri Lanka flights after rebel air strike

Emirates operated scheduled flights from Dubai to the Maldives, Singapore and Indonesia through Colombo.

Sunday, April 29, 2007
@ © 2005-2007 Diligent Media Corporation Ltd.


COLOMBO: Emirates Airlines and Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific on Sunday suspended flights to Sri Lanka following a rebel air strike around the troubled island's capital.

"For Emirates, the safety of its passengers is of paramount importance," a spokesman for the Dubai-based carrier said, adding that the situation would be reviewed within a day.

Emirates operated scheduled flights from Dubai to the Maldives, Singapore and Indonesia through Colombo.

However, the airline plans to operate a relief flight for any stranded passengers.

Hong Kong's flag carrier Cathay Pacific suspended flights to Sri Lanka's international airport indefinitely, it said in a statement Sunday.

Planes manned by Tamil Tiger rebels struck fuel depots around Sri Lanka's capital early Sunday, briefly plunging Colombo into darkness. Security forces lit up the night sky with anti-aircraft fire.

The island's only international airport, located near the capital, diverted flights after rebel aircraft were spotted in its air space.

Flights were disrupted by air defence systems, officials said, adding that one Indian jet was turned back and several departing flights were delayed.

It is the second time in recent weeks that Cathay Pacific has suspended flights to Sri Lanka. It pulled services for a week late last month after Tamil Tiger rebels launched an air raid on a military base next to the airport.


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 Post subject: Lankan air force lacks night operations capability
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:24 pm 
Lankan air force lacks night operations capability

The LTTE has only a single digit force of propeller driven Czech designed and locally assembled Zlin Z-142s. Yet, the fledgling Flying Tigers have been able to infiltrate hundreds of kilometres of government-administered territory, attack key military and strategic targets, and get back to base unscathed.

@ HT / PK Balachandran
Colombo, April 29, 2007


The Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) has a fair sized fleet of Kfir and MIG 27 jet fighter bombers and MI-24 choppers. The LTTE has only a single digit force of propeller driven Czech designed and locally assembled Zlin Z-142s.

Yet, the fledgling Flying Tigers have been able to infiltrate hundreds of kilometres of government-administered territory, attack key military and strategic targets, and get back to base unscathed.

Reason? "The SLAF lacks night operational capability,"" say defence experts.

The LTTE is aware of this and has staged its three attacks so far, only at night.

"SLAF aircraft did take off to intercept the intruders, but they could not spot them because it was too dark," said an expert who wished to remain anonymous.

The SLAF needs to get Night Vision Goggles (NVG) and aircraft capable of defending the skies at night.

The SLAF had been told to NVGs, among other suitable equipment, way back in 2002 by a team of the US Pacific Command.

But no action had been taken till date, The Sunday Times said.

According to the paper, the US team's report could not be traced and it was left to a former minister in the 2002 government, Milinda Moragoda, to come to the Rajapaksa government's rescue and give the Ministry of Defence a copy of the report.

The US Pacific Command had said that the SLAF should stop purchasing expensive new aircraft like MIG 27s, and spend its limited resources on keeping the existing fleet in working order by investing in spare parts and upgrading.

The Kfirs could be upgraded and the MI-17s and 24s could be better armed, the American team said.


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 Post subject: Bombed fuel tank partly owned by IOC
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:38 pm 
Bombed fuel tank partly owned by IOC

@ The Hindu

Colombo, April. 29 (PTI): The main oil storage tank hit by Tamil Tiger guerrillas in a daring air raid here this morning is owned jointly by the Sri Lankan Government and the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

The Tigers first hit a petroleum facility in Kolonnawa, a suburb of Colombo, where storage tanks are jointly owned by IOC and Sri Lankan Governments since 2002, officials said. The fuel distribution facility is run by Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd (CPSTL), is 33 per cent-owned by Lanka IOC, a unit of the Indian Oil Corporation, which is an enterprise of the government of India. The rest is owned by Sri Lanka government's Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

"It is a very bad thing, whether the company is owned by the Indian government or Sri Lanka," Lanka IOC Managing Director K Ramakrishnan said. "Fortunately nothing much happened and we will be operating without any disturbance." Lanka IOC owns a 33 per cent stake in CPSTL, which was acquired from the Sri Lanka government when it entered the country's oil business. Shell Gas Lanka Ltd, whose liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) unloading andstorage terminal in Muturajawela, which was also hit by bombs within minutes of the first attack, is part of Netherland's Royal Dutch/Shell Group since 1995.


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 Post subject: Flying Tigers miss the targets again - Little Damage
 Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2007 7:47 pm 
Little Damage

29 April 2007
@ LBO


Indian and Dutch partners of Sri Lanka petroleum firms shrug off Tamil Tiger air raids

April 29, 2007 (LBO) – The Indian and Dutch partners of petroleum facilities targeted by Tamil Tigers, which are jointly owned with the government of Sri Lanka, are confident of resuming normal business as the damage is minimal, officials said.

The Tigers first hit a petroleum facility in Kolonnawa, a suburb of Colombo, which is jointly owned by Indian and Sri Lankan governments since 2002.

One of the bombs failed to explode, and the other fell on a tar tank which did not catch fire.

The fuel distribution facility is run by Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd (CPSTL), is 33 percent-owned by Lanka IOC, a unit of the Indian Oil Corporation, which is an enterprise of the government of India.

The rest is owned by Sri Lanka government's Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC).

"It is a very bad thing, whether the company is owned by the Indian government or Sri Lanka," Lanka IOC Managing Director K Ramakrishnan said.

"Fortunately nothing much happened and we will be operating without any disturbance."

Lanka IOC owns a 33 percent stake in CPSTL, which was acquired from the Sri Lanka government when it entered the country's oil business.

Shell Gas Lanka Ltd, whose liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) unloading and storage terminal in Muturajawela, which was hit by bombs within minutes of the first attack, is part of Netherland's Royal Dutch/Shell Group since 1995.

Rimoe Saldin, finance director of Shell Gas Lanka, of which 49 percent is still held by the government of Sri Lanka said the company does not believe the attack was aimed at Shell’s gas terminal or that it would affect the multinational’s presence in the island.

“This is a new development. But we do not believe the attack was aimed at us," Saldin told LBO.

"Shell always comes in for the long haul. The company is evaluating this situation.”

The Muturajawela terminal owned by Shell Terminals Lanka, is adjacent to a newly-built Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) oil storage complex, and is part of the same high security zone.

Its outer perimeter security is provided by government forces.

The Tamil Tigers claimed that they had hit two government oil storage facilities which were supplying the military.

Shell's Saldin said there were no injuries to workers at the Muturajawela facility, north of the capital Colombo, from the one bomb that exploded at around 2.00 a.m.

“There was no damage to the gas storage tanks or pipelines," Saldin told LBO.

"There was a minor fire which we contained in about an hour.”

The rebel air strike, using at least one light aircraft, caused some damage to fire water pumps and a fire engine at the facility.

Saldin said they do not anticipate any disruption of LPG supplies, with Sunday being a non-working day for distribution, and that the terminal was being checked.

Shell Gas Lanka's has its bottling and distribution plant elsewhere, in Mabima.


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 Post subject: "Destroy Tiger planes on the ground"
 Post Posted: Tue May 01, 2007 3:46 pm 
"Destroy Tiger planes on the ground"

They are like David and Goliath. The Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) has a fair sized fleet of Kfir, MIG 27 and Y-8 bombers, MI-17 and MI-24 choppers, and AN-32 transport aircraft. In contrast, the LTTE's air arm, christened Tamileelam Air Force (TUF), is a puny, single digit fleet of propeller-driven and locally assembled Zlin Z-142s of Czech design.

PK Balachandran ,
© Copyright 2007 Hindustan Times
Colombo, May 01, 2007


Former Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) chief, Air Vice Marshal Harry Gunatilleke, says that the only practical way of neutralising the LTTE's Air Force is the destruction of its planes on the ground.

"Instead of chopping the branches of the tree, we have to go for the roots. Destruction of the planes on the ground is the only way to get rid of the problem," Gunatilleke told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

The Kfirs and MIG-27s, which were being used, would not be able to play an interceptor role given the nature of the opposition. But they could do precision bombing if reports by Intelligence about the LTTE's hangars was accurate, the veteran said.

"The Air Force would have to go in for sophisticated surveillance and detection systems. The UAVs for example would be able to see number plates of vehicles from a height of 8,000 ft."

"A good detection system will also reduce instances of the kind of wild firing one saw during the air raid on Colombo and its suburbs on April 28," he said.

Anti aircraft guns from Katunayake in the North, down to Ratmalana in the South, covering a 50 km stretch, were firing indiscriminately, while the Tiger raiders were concentrating on a small area.


AVM Gunatilleke was Air Chief between 1976 and 1981. On of his sons as killed in 1995 when the Avro transport aircraft he was piloting was shot down by the LTTE. The other son, Roshan, is the current Air Chief.

Underground hangars

But it would not be easy to destroy Tiger planes on the ground because they could be parked in heavily fortified underground hangars, Gunatilleke warned.

"Bunker buster bombs can be used to destroy them, provided accuracy is assured. In the absence of accuracy there will be needless collateral destruction of great magnitude," he said.

Diplomats do not rule out the existence of underground hangars as many of the vital installations of the LTTE are underground. But Iqbal Athas, Sri Lanka Correspondent of Janes' Defence Weekly, does not think that they exist.

"These are small planes which can be concealed easily. They can take off from and land on a gravel road or any 400 to 500 metre stretch of flat land," Athas said.

Poor Intelligence

"The main problem is not where the planes are kept, but whether or not Intelligence reports about their whereabouts is adequate," the analyst said.

"In 2002, a US Pacific Command study of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces had noted that the current Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets of the SLAF were inadequate," he recalled.

The US report had recommended that the acquisition of ISR platforms be given priority over purchase of new aircraft.

Apparently, the advice had not been heeded. This was why the SLAF's frequent raids on the Iranamadu air field in the Wanni had not borne fruit, diplomats said.

"The Iranamadu air field may well have been a fake," one of them said.


© Copyright 2007 Hindustan Times


Tigers exploit flaws in Lankan air defence

PK Balachandran ,
© Copyright 2007 Hindustan Times
Colombo, May 01, 2007


They are like David and Goliath. The Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) has a fair sized fleet of Kfir, MIG 27 and Y-8 bombers, MI-17 and MI-24 choppers, and AN-32 transport aircraft. In contrast, the LTTE's air arm, christened Tamileelam Air Force (TUF), is a puny, single digit fleet of propeller-driven and locally assembled Zlin Z-142s of Czech design.

And yet, the fledgling Flying Tigers have been able to infiltrate hundreds of kilometres of government-held territory, attack key military and strategic targets, and get back to base unscathed. This has happened three times in a row so far, clearly suggesting that Sri Lanka's air defence system is totally unsuited to the task before it.

This should cause concern in New Delhi and Washington also, since India and the US had taken the initiative in alerting the Sri Lankans about the potential threat from the skies. India had even provided, free of cost, a radar system for the defence of Colombo, the nerve centre of the Sri Lankan military, and the site of the island's only international harbour.

Defence experts say that the SLAF lacks night operational capability and air to air fighting capability. The SLAF had never planned for a day when its planes would face opposition from enemy aircraft, although there had been a warning about such a threat by an US Pacific Command team in 2002, and by Iqbal Athas, the defence correspondent of Sunday Times since 2005.

The SLAF has fast jet aircraft like Kfirs and MIG-27s which are basically used as bombers to take on static targets on the ground. Air-to-air combat was never envisaged, and suitable equipment was not acquired.

"MIGs and Kfirs are too fast and fly too high to take on the slow moving LTTE aircraft. What the SLAF needs is to envisage a World War II type of situation in which aircraft would go behind the enemy and shoot him down," said a foreign diplomat.

Prasun Sengupta, contributing editor of the Malaysian security affairs magazine Tempur says that Kfirs and MIG-27 can take to the air in less than 2 minutes, but only if they are on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). But for the kind of threat faced by Sri Lanka QRA may be too expensive. At any rate, using aircraft of the kind SLAF has, in the context of the current threat, does not make sense.

The SLAF's Chinese-built K-8 bombers are ideal for the kind of air operations required, but there are so few of them. "It might be sensible to buy aircraft like Zlin-Z-142 The fly is best swatted by a simple fly swatter and not a sledge hammer!" an expert said.

The lack of night operational capability is glaring. Only the K-8s have it. But SLAF pilots don't have Night Vision Goggles (NVG). "On Sunday, K-8s took to the air to intercept the LTTE's aircraft, but the intruders could not be found because it was too dark!" the expert pointed out.

The LTTE is aware of this and has staged all its air attacks at night. Apparently, its aircraft and pilots have night operational capability.

Sengupta suggests the use of low-level air defence radars and shoulder-held missiles like the Russian IGLA-8. But the Indians say that the 2D radars given by them are adequate. "No ground radar can be totally accurate. In addition, aircraft must have their own radars to pin point the enemy," said an Indian defence expert. SLAF aircraft don't have this capability.

US Pacific Command had said in 2002, that the SLAF should stop purchasing expensive new aircraft. On the other hand, it should upgrade the existing fleet suitably and spend a lot on spare parts to keep it fighting fit. A large fleet is useless if much of it is grounded for want of spares.


© Copyright 2007 Hindustan Times


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