Israel to Sell Additional Jet Fighters to SRI Lanka

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Israel to Sell Additional Jet Fighters to SRI Lanka

United Press International
TEL AVIV, Israel, May 12 (UPI) — Israel has agreed to sell Sri Lanka additional Kfir jet fighters, a senior defense official confirmed Friday.

The source, who insisted on anonymity, said the deal would be a continuation of an earlier sale of five Kfir's to Sri Lanka's air force.

The Kfir, which looks like the French Mirage III, had been the mainstay of the Israel Air Force more than a quarter of a century ago.

The defense source said the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) will buy the planes from the air force, upgrade them and charge Sri Lanka for handling.

He said he expected five to six aircraft to be supplied in about a year.

Earlier, Sri Lanka bought Saar 4.5 missile boats from the Israeli navy and smaller Dabur and Devora patrol boats from the IAI.

Two weeks ago, Sri Lanka announced resumption of diplomatic relations with Israel, in another turn of the two countries' on-again-off-again see-saw relationship.

The decision to renew formal ties came at a time when the Sri Lankan armed forces were facing a rout at the hands of the Tamil Tigers.

The Haaretz newspaper Friday said Israel has been providing Sri Lanka with military assistance since 1995.

The newspaper said that in recent weeks, "contingents" of Sri Lankan army officials have visited Israel and discussed sales of weapons. Senior defense officials from both countries met in Jerusalem Thursday, the paper said.

Israel has supplied Sri Lanka with unmanned aircraft and mine detection equipment, according to Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies.
© 2000 UPI All Rights Reserved.

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