Ever since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) used two of their light aircraft to bomb the country's main air base, top brass of the SLAF have been busy devising countermeasures. Although ground based anti aircraft defenses and surveillance equipment were quickly purchased, acquiring a dedicated interceptor was continuously delayed (Initially there were plans to buy MiG29 fighters from Russia. These plans however had to be scrapped off due to budget constraints). Due to this reason, LTTE aircraft managed to safely return to base after several mildly successful bombing runs over Colombo.
By now, things have changed. SLAF recently took delivery of six F-7G aircraft which will primarily be used for interceptor role. Unlike the older F-7BS and FT-7 aircraft which the SLAF has been operating for over a decade, these modernized versions feature advanced avionics, upgraded engine, improved radar (KLJ-6E), surveillance capabilities and the ability to fire a range of air to air missiles.
5th Jet Squadron has operated the following aircraft from the Chengdu J-7 family since the early 1990s:
- CF701 - FT-7 (Trainer)
- CF702 - FT-7 (Trainer)
- CF703 - FT-7 (Trainer)
- CF704 - F-7BS (Crashed while landing in 2000.)
- CF705 - F-7BS
- CF707 - F-7BS
- CF708 - F-7BS
The new F-7Gs (not included in above list) will also be operated by the 5th Jet Squadron.
- Maximum Speed : 2100 km per hour
- Range : 850km
- Weight (Empty) : 5355KG
- Weight (Loaded) : 7600KG
- Radar: KLJ-6E with Helmet Mounted Sight (HMS) / Range 30KM
- Cannon : One 30mm Type 30-1 cannon
- Payload limit : 2000KG (4x 50-500KG - AAM/Free Fall Bombs)
- Rocket Pods : 12x55mm, 7x90mm
- Air to Air Missiles (AAM) : PL-5, PL-7, PL-8, PL-9, AIM-9, R550 (KLJ-6E radar and HMS can be used in conjunction to control PL-8 and PL-9 missiles)