Last week's LTTE attack on Anuradhapura SLAF airbase was a major victory for the tigers. It delivered a severe blow for SLAF's surveillance capabilities and had the Eelam Diaspora jumping up in joy. 1st flying training wing and 11th UAV flight were the squadrons that suffered most. At least 3 UAVs operated by 11th UAV flight were completely destroyed. More than 12 aircraft of the 1st flying training wing including K-8 advanced jet trainers with night flying capability, Cessna 150s and PT6 trainers were destroyed in the attack.
Previously, we reported that two Mi-24 gunships were seriously damaged in the attack. According to latest reports, one of them is damaged beyond repair but the other is repairable.
Destruction of the 3 UAVs delivered a major blow to SLAF's aerial recon capabilities (however the entire UAV fleet was not lost). The loss may not be felt for long as several countries have come forward to aid the SLAF replenish its UAV inventory. Provided that everything goes well, several new UAVs might join the SLAF fleet as early as mid November. We have unconfirmed news that the new UAVs will be more technically advanced than some of those that were destroyed in the attack. Makes and models of the UAVs will not be published here as we do not know when/if that information will be made public.
Another major loss the SLAF suffered in the incident was the destruction of the Beechcraft surveillance aircraft. However the LTTE may not gain a long term benefit; Plans are already underway to repair the other Beechcraft which is currently grounded due to a technical failure.
Meanwhile India has come forward to supply the Sri Lankan armed forces with anti aircraft guns. India previously provided an air defense radar to facilitate early detection of LTTE's low flying Cessna 150 light aircraft. Although the Indian radar at Vavuniya AFB detected the LTTE aircraft, absence of an effective strategy to counter such a detection helped the aircraft to escape unharmed.
Several pro LTTE media featured stories regarding how the LTTE aircraft shot down the SLAF Bell-212. We can confirm that all such stories are false and according to our information Bell-212 was shot down from ground based AA fire directed from Anuradhapura Airbase (high likelihood of a friendly fire incident).
SLAF may recover quickly from these losses with the help promised by foreign counties. However none of these replacements come free of charge. And the lives of SLAF personnel that were lost in the incident can never be replaced. Military Intelligence has already warned that future LTTE targets include the Minneriya AFB (Helicopter gunships are parked here) and Palaly AFB (Major supply hub for Jaffna peninsula). Therefore SLAF must take steps to ensure that effects of future terrorist attacks are minimized.