Sunday, May 6, 2007

SLAF bombs Mullaithiv, plans to buy MiG29s for air defence

After a five day silence, the Sri Lanka Air Force bombers took off from the KAB on Saturday to bomb rebel held Mullaithiv region. Many pro rebel LTTE media justified the 5 days silence of SLAF as proof of the LTTE's claim of shooting down a Kfir (later MiG27) last week. However, DefenceNet learns that bad weather and strategic reasons were behind the silence of SLAF during the last five days.

Meanwhile, with four failed attempts to gun down LTTE's aircraft which managed to successfully evade after conducting partially successful bombing runs on KAB, Palaly Military base and Colombo HSZ, the SLAF is now looking at the possibility of buying at least two MiG29 jet fighters for air superiority role.

Picture - A MiG29 Fighter jet firing AA missile

MiG29 is a highly advanced combat aircraft which is both capable of air to ground and air to air role. The most common MiG29 variant has the following specifications.

Primary Function: Multi-role fighter

Contractor: Mikoyan-Gurevich

Crew: One

Powerplant: Two Klimov/Sarkisov RD-33 turbofans at 18,298 afterburning pounds of thrust each

Length: 56 feet and 10 inches

Wingspan: 37 feet and 3.25 inches

Height: 15 feet and 6.2 inches

Weights: Empty: 24,030 pounds Maximum Takeoff: 40,785 lb (18500 kg)

Speed: Mach 2.3 (1,520 mph)

Ceiling: 55,775 ft (17000 m)

Range: 932 miles (810 nm / 1500 km) with internal fuel


  • One 30mm GSh-301 cannon with 150 rounds
  • Six AAMs including a mix of SARH and AA-8 Aphid (R60)
  • AA-10 Alamo (R27T), AA-11 Archer
  • R73
  • FAB 500-M62
  • FAB-1000
  • TN-100
  • ECM Pods
  • S-24
  • AS-12
  • AS-14


  1. Mig-29? what a waste of money!!! we are trying to shoot down sub sonic propellar driven aircrafts with one of the best supersonic interceptors in the world?? would it not make better sense to air defence MANPADs and missile/gun systems like the Tunguska M1 or the Pantsyr S1 system from Russia/Ukraine?
    This will be a huge misappropriation of our limited resources; i recently found our that one of the two Beechcraft surveillance aircrafts are out of action due to badly needed maintenence; we should be keeping our existing fleet operational with adequate levels of spare parts but that doesn't seem to happen

  2. it would be intesting to see what's LTTE going to do now... There must have been some 5 day plan from our side by getting ready for night actions...

  3. The Mig 29s will act as a deterent but at the same time what needs to be considered is that whether this is a knee jerk reaction. It could also e air force politics. If earlier they had requested for these planes it would have been turned down due to the cost.

    I guess for the planes to arrive and be battle reasy (assuming ukranian pilots) its would still be couple of months. Time is something which is a great advantage for a rebel organisation.

    A 3 prong offensive from the north south and east must be carried out immediately. There are impending signs of that. Often when the loss of soldiers starts going into the hundreds, oppoturnist keep screaming that the armed forces are failing. However with a numerical advantage to the LTTE, this can be managed.

    Money spent on bombs/weapons for the ground forces are more important then on the air force. Particularly training and special weapons for specials forces. These specials forces are more effective then the air force.

  4. sure it's a bit "over kill" for the ltte threat, but this augurs well down the track. i mean we'll need a large team of skilled personnel to fly and maintain these aircraft, so if nothing else it means some of our expatriate boys and girls could come home for a job. who knows what other possible spin offs are waiting down the track.

  5. It looks like we are doing the same mistake over and over again..
    This is not the answer, buy a couple Beechcrafts for survilence and upgrade the rest..This is what the 24 member US team suggested to then UNF government after their study tour of Sri Lanka..

    This is an absolute waiste of Money..We can't maintain these birds with limited resources..

    We will going down in the history as the most dumbest Air force in the world in terms of decision making..It shows one thing, most of the Sri Lankan intellectuals are out of the country giving corrupt officials to thrive on the whole country..May all gods blessed Sri Lanka and its people.

  6. We already have air supperirity and what we only need is to monitor is our air space 24 hours.
    We would have bought 2 more beechcrafts for survillence and more smaller planes to monitor LTTE activities around the island..Their activities should have been similar to the NAVY's Special boat squadron..

  7. Can we upgrade the existing MiG 27s and Kfirs to multipurpose (interceptor and ground attack) crafts? What about getting a much acclaimed 3D RADAR? I don't know enough of aircrafts and air combat to ask a decent question but, why are we going for something presumed so expensive without taking in the presumed low cost option of upgrading the existing fleet? Is this because those upgrades are more expensive than buying a fully equipped MiG 29? Can somebody fill us in?

  8. Kfirs already have night attack capability and radar that can penetrate night skies. Whether we can use it to hunt down LTTE craft remains to be seen. However only on one occasion in worldwide combat history has a Kfir shot down an enemy plane in a dogfight.

    As many of you have said, Mig29s cost a colossal sum of money. (several times than a Mig27).

    Someone asked about SAM lanchers. Yes we do have them and we do have trained people to handle the launchers. Colonnawa oil storage complex was guarded by such portable SAM launcher. But the airman who was in control of the weapons couldn't get a proper lock on the target and therefore couldnt shoot down the enemy aircraft.

  9. Sam,

    The question is, whether SLAF tested this capability by flying an aircraft at low level i.e. tree top level as in the case of LTTE crafts and tries to lock a SAM on it?
    I am 99 percent sure we didn't do the home work and that is why the failure as in the case of Indian Radars..There are not enough people to guide the SLAF to do the right things..May be we got real good pilots and that is not enough..We need real decision makers..
    We have people who wait for their piece of share in every arms deal..

  10. Sorry I was mistaken, the previous posting was for Defencenet admin and as this one..

    I guess, single failure to aquire a target should not be taken as a failure of the weapon..It might have been human error rather than the SAM it self..Who knows??
    A 3D RADAR would be a better option in any case..

    Why the SLAF not going for couple of Beechcrafts instead of these expensive Mig29..A certain nightmare for service guys in SLAF..

  11. Yet another scheme for our 'nation loving' politicians to line their deep pockets.

    This would go as one of the most ill conceived if not the most ill conceived military hardware purchases in the recent past.

    The way the air gunners are lighting up everything in the sky I won't be surprised if they down our own aircraft before they get the Tiger aircraft.

    The most logical way to get these aircraft is -- as soon as there is an aircraft sighting scramble our ELINT Beechcraft into the sky from China Bay and then send a few Kfirs and Mi-24's into the Vanni area. Afterall, these aircraft must return home and like last time they will likely be spotted on their return trip and the Beechcraft will be at hand to track all movements and guide in the SLAF aircraft in the vicinity towards the bogies.

    Without hammering out a plan and doing some brain storming, our defence ministry bean counters probably watch Top Gun or Iron Eagle and then think how to incorporate that type of capability into our AF. The people who take such decisions should be towed behind aircraft for air gunnery practice.

  12. Its an absolute vaste to by Mig-29's. Bangladesh bought some a few years back and the fleet spent most of its time on the ground because they are very expensive to maintain. We are already short of pilots for our current jets, where are we going to get pilots from? Mercerneries? We dont have the money. We should be upgrading the Kfir's and Mi-24s and using SAM's to bring these birds down, not splurging on an ultra expensive jet we cant even maintain. Ridiculous

  13. Can't we hire them(Mig29) for 3 months(if the SLAF top brass desire's are so high) from the Russian Airforce ? For the name's sake don't waste money like this..
    Just pathetic.

    Hind Driver,

    What you say is absolutely true..Well thought out...

  14. From my sources in the AirForce I hear the plan is to buy 5 used MiG-29U fighters consisting of 4 MiG-29B and 1 MiG-29UB 2 seat trainer. A complete waste of time and money if you ask me. And believe this or not, my buddies in the SLAF…. Who happen to be fighter pilots who regularly fly operations agree with me.

    The cost of maintenance alone will cripple the SLAF and the country financially. I’d rather the SLAF buy some Su-25 ground attack aircraft. Using supersonic fighters to combat the small light aircraft of the LTTE has to be the worst idea in the history of the SLAFs bad ideas.

    Even a couple of World War 2 era Spitfire aircraft could knock those LTTE aircraft down faster a Malinga delivery. I just hope someone can talk some sense into our Air Force leadership and stops then from making a huge mistake.

  15. Guys
    Does any one knows why the hell we call general Janaka perera back home ? whos idea was it ?? he was doing a pretty good job tracking down most of LTTE arm shipment ? is captain nilam safe ??? We have to protect these guys at any cost.

  16. I see a lot of posters think this whole MIG 29 business is a waste, I am no expert, but I tend to agree, it does seem like a LOT of overkill for a few small planes.

    However, many of you are obviously more informed than the average citizen so catch this but they may not! So perhaps there is a political component to this that out weighs any actual utilitarian value to the jets.

    That is for the government to be seen doing 'something' to ally local and international fears, and what better than to bring in top notch air to air fighters.

  17. Let me explain for the 1600th time. We do not need SU-25's or any more gizmos. What we have is more than enough, we lack oversight and planning.

    What we require are accountable government officials who are interested in the welfare of the country and people.

  18. Hind Driver, If what you say existed then the country will never have gone into war.

    The Mig 29s I guess are political. However many are looking at the LTTE air wing strenght today. How about in the near future. LTTE will definetely have plans to start building something indgineous or try to get their hands on some old fighters from some former soviet bloc countries for example.

    From the news reports I have read, I guess Capt Nilam has fled to another country with his family or his family has been moved elsewhere and he has been brought secretly back to Sri Lanka.

    He would have been recalled to counter the LTTE air threat. If he feared for his family's life, he would have asked the goverment to put a ploy that he is lost. Or as speculated he would have gone to a 3rd country to live a more peacuful life like what he enjoyed in Sri Lanka.

    Only time will tell.

  19. That is an absurd statement. Are you trying to say that nations with accountable government officials don't go to war? Why have a standing military then? We could all smoke peace pipes and sing Kumbaya all day long.

    Your statement is more reminiscent of arguing about who came first "the chicken or the egg?"

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. I think Kanishka right. For the time been we can go for a helicopter like MI28 which also a capable of AA combat.Specially Mi-28N Night Havoc which is more suitable for the current situation.

  22. Hind Driver, I do not want to get into a political discussion as this is not the forum for it. The matter of issue is the Mig 29s.
    I had mentioned before that its going to take a few months before the mig29s come into action.

    So far there is probing attacks (some can be considered diversionary) for a real assualt on the LTTE. The SLA is under pressure to keep losses to a minimum. However its this reason which prevents seziure of lands. The east was won because of Karuna's help. However from his blabbering on the LTTE planes, its looks like he has no idea of what goes on in vanni.

    The war needs to be expedited soon. This will give the SLA an advantage. The longer it takes the greater the strain on the economy, the more possibility of LTTE air attacks and possible international pressure.

    Even in muhumalai, if the army had kept pushing (yes there were losses) they would have eventually push the LTTE back. However their aim to gain teritory on a minimum loss stratergy may not be possible in the North. There is a need for both economic and military scarifices for the next few months to achieve this.

    Regardless of peoples affliation, Mahinda should be fully supported. He has the direction to lead the country in a war that can be won.
    Honestly I wish he would suspend the parliment (saving alot of money) declare war and push forward.

  23. Sri Lanka Air Force fighters pounded a pre identified LTTE base at Ramanatpuram East of Iranamadu in north of Mullaittivu today morning , Monday the 07th of May.

    SLAF supersonic fighter jets pounded on strategic LTTE base at Ramanatpuram East of Iranamadu at 07.25 am and the SLAF confirmed that the LTTE base was completely destroyed due to bombardment.

    Air Force sources said a large complex of buildings including a fuel storage, large stock of arms, ammunition and explosives were completely destroyed due to the air raid conducted today morning.

    The follow-through reports of the attack indicated that the flame lasted about hours after the attack and this base used for its recent training activities and the intelligence sources revealed that the target has been accurately identified through timely ground information received form the reliable sources.

    More details will follow. . .
    (defence net)

  24. Guys not to be scepticle, but this reporting looks very much like something that comes from tamilnet. Replace the SLAF with TAF and the place as pallali.

  25. I agree its waste of money to buy planes worth billions of rupees to shoot down two prpeller powered aircrafts. But there can be hidden reasons like cut backs.

    It is obvious some of you who write in this blog may have connections with the forces. People should not divulge anything that they get from inside sources as it can be harmful for the country.

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Hmmm.. for me it looks like they are going to replace Kfirs with MIG 29s. cos its easy to maintain a Single aircraft Variant. What do you guys think? Besides this is a good opportunity to buy those MIGs cos Indians doesn't Like when we getting Sophisticated Military Hardware.. Remember what happened with Radar systems.. they gave us free Indra Radars, which is only 2D.. So why not this time?

    just read this article carefully..

  28. Yes it is easier to maintain one type, so since we alread have Kfirs, which essentially are multirole fighters, its better to upgrade our C2's and C7's to C10 standard which will allow them to fly at night, bad weather and be used in an air superiority role. It would be cheaper to upgrade them than buy new planes, our pilots already know how to fly them, and our engineers know how to maintain them. It makes no senese to buy a more complicated fighter and begin from scratch. Given the Mig 29 is a generation ahead of the Kfir, but if we upgrade all of them to C7 or C10, they will be MORE than enough for our current requiremnt, unless the LTTE goes and buys some fast jets of their own. The Mig 29 was intended to combat the F-16 and to a lesser extent the F-15, I really cant see the LTTE getting their hands on such advanced jets? Can anyone else?

  29. The Question is,

    Do we need to stop Funding our forces after this war/Problem..?

    if the answer is yes.. then what do we do if something happens to our nation? (I'm not talking about going to war with some other nation who's got armed to their teeth.. but its good to fight and die rather than sit and wait. right?)

    if we are talking about wasting money.. Common!! we wasting money all day long with our politicos in the parliament..

  30. So are you saying we should start a nuclear missile program, arm ouselves to the max anticipating a foreign invasion. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate deterent arent they? You need to weigh out the benefits with the costs. Will the benefit of buying Mig 29's be greater than the costs? In todays global political environment, a country like Sri Lanka does not need to arm itself in fear of an international invasion. We have good diplomatic relations with our neighbours, the current global superpower, the US, and possibly the future superpower China. If we were Iran, or say Zimbabwe, then we should be worried about invasions. We are relatively well integrated into global politics that we shouldn't face a credible threat from a foreign invasion. Thus coming back to my point, the benefits are almost entirely outweighed by the costs. Its like saying you need to take out insurance for eveything negative that could happen, arming yourself in expectation of an invasion (in Sri Lanka's case) is like buying insurance for something like Kawasakies disease, VERY VERY rare, and even if it does happens, the chances of your insuarance being able to bail you out is not 100%. In the case of invasion, even with 6 Mig-29s we will need foreign help. Save the money, build some bridges, hospitals or whatever, make the country actually grow without wasting the little money the politicians havent sqaundered. Judging by past experience, the graft in this deal will be excessive given the asking price for a 29.

  31. I've got your point. but what about the upgrade time and costs(To Kfir C10 as you referred).. and about C7s, we already got 2 C7s. which are capable of night flying (Are those still fly worthy?).. plus We already got Pilots who's familiar with MIG cockpits (MIG27) which is similar to MIG 29. what we don't have is, pilots with Dogfight capabilities. even if we got Kfirs but we don't know how to use them..

    If the SLAF wants to sell off the KFIRS after the MIG Purchase, still we save some money after all? right?

    And I'm telling you My Friend :o)
    Military R&D (I'm Not referring to Nukes) is never a waste.. Ever..And we cant predict that our neighbors will stay like this for ever. Any Guarantee on that? :o)

  32. Dhinuksha, I really don't think MiG 29 could replace our Kfirs cos they are primarily used in the air superiority role and aren't really designed to carry out ground attacks. We could go for some of the newer variants, but they would probably be way out of our price range. Plus we don't have any pilots who can fly MiG29s so we'll have to get Ukrainian or Pakistani pilots to fly any newly acquired aircraft. That would mean more nonsense speculation in the media.

    I personally think we'll be a lot better off upgrading our air defense systems than trying to take out the LTTE aircraft in the air. According to the weekend newspapers India has agreed to provide us more radars, and upgrade some of the current ones to 3D.

    We're also supposed to be getting (wonder if anyone here can confirm this?) an advanced air defense system in a few weeks. Focusing on air defense would make a lot more sense than blowing millions of dollars on aircraft we might use just 4 or 5 times (provided they do their job and shoot down an LTTE aircraft each time).

  33. the mig can be upgraded to carry out multi-role operations, but that does incur additional cost. like dinushka says the reasoning seems to be on the long term military and r&d needs of the country. a precedent is always a risk, but it could have a lot of unintended positives down the track. this may not be the most pragmatic solution, but perhaps the knock on consequences are too early to judge.

  34. Guys Plz don't expose military details out, some of you may have internal information but this will be harmful to our nation.

  35. I do not know what is military secrets or not military secrets but the SL military inteligence establishment and their LTTE counterparts know more information then probabily any of the forumers on what is the implication or needs or their and their enemies moves.

    Thanks to the internet, more people know information and reliable and up to date information then do people without that access. Some people in the forum claim to know a pilot or a senior military personnel etc. Often they do this to give weight to their arguments. Well even I could say I met X or Y person and he tells me stuff.

    What is more important is not to devulge things like the pilots like to go for a holiday in kandy etc. This is information that the LTTE might or might not know.

    Remember the LTTE attack on KAB was no conincidence that the radars were not working. The reaction to the attack and their subsequent attack shows that they have much better tactical intelligence then what has been seen in the forum.

    Its not the forumers fault. Often we are with limited information and knowing such information maybe of intrest to us but it does not make or break us.

  36. Yes, Earlier on when we about to purchase Kfirs at that time, some people said that its an "Over kill" too.. just imagine SLAF without Kfirs.. Suicidal!

    Like Jiffy said we can Modified these 29s to Multi role version. recently Malaysia bought couple of MIG 29s with Multi role Configuration.. (Like arming up with Anti ship missiles)

    This is our Best shot.. Now Or Never! :o)

  37. I agree with Naveendran 100%, after all we are not the people who decide on these Military acquisitions. there might be Top Panels who decide what we want and what we don't want? we are just guys who are interested in these matters and thats it!.


  39. Check out this new SLAF blog site

  40. Personally I am happy to see increasing engagement and interest in our much educated younger generation in matters of national security and defence. In the years gone by, it was only the voices of those who spread evil rumors about Sri Lanka that was heard, with a total absence of contradictory arguments. So it really doesn't matter whether these voices are holding decision making positions or not right now. They will form the basis of strong opinion as they grow in numbers and begin to matter in making Sri Lankan politics sound, rational and just.

    So do keep up your engagement in what is happening in our motherland and also encourage other youngsters like yourselves to become more actively engaged in seeking information and having their voices heard. That is how democracy works; it must be representative of the needs of the voter. We do need to strengthen democracy and voter choice in Sri Lanka not only in daily governance, but also in how all expenditures are handled, including those of the military. It is our taxx money that is being spent and we have the inalienable right to know what it is going to accomplish.

  41. Defencenet, any comments on the news that the LTTE aircraft are hidden in the Wilpattu jungles?

    If that's the case we would bot need the Mig29s any more...

  42. Tropicalstorm,
    Cool site, we'll link to that once we get the time.

  43. Tropicalstorm,
    New site linked.

    We really do need to make the truth heard. The problem is that pro LTTE media have had a head start. And we dont think GoSL is trying to make their sites look reliable either.

    What we need is sites that express the truth (regardless of who won and how many died)
    DefenceNet blog has been trying to do this and indeed the responses we have got so far , exceeded expectations. We'll launch RSS feeds, E-mail subscriptions, Link exchanges in near future to promote the site.

  44. we still do have a few serviceable Sia Marchettis and other turbo-props which are currently being used for triaining purposes only.

    Is there any particular reason why we cannot use these aircraft to counter the tiger tincans ? My question is based on the fact that they need not even cross into tiger terrain, but can confront the bomb laden and hence less manueverable Zlins with greater ease once they cross into govt areas and blow them away..

    There are also isolated media reports that the tiger aircraft have been sighted in the Wilpattu jungles. If that's the case we should be seeing the end-game for air-tigers soon.

  45. Defencenet

    Thanks for hosting links to my two sites.

  46. Check this article out!
    This is the exact type of radar we need with the heavy vegetation in Sri Lanka and this will essentially perform the function of static AWACS system to detect low flying planes from far away!
    I will put money on it that india will stop from going for a very good system like this one instead we will have to buy their shitty indigenous ground based 2D and 3D radars.


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