HAVING played a decisive and impressive role in decimating the LTTE, the SLAF seems to be searching for clues to its' future role. All indications from Sri Lanka are that the obviously unwise attempts to purchase a fleet of Mig-29s are now permanently put off. If the effeciveness of the F7G's given free of charge by the Chinese eliminated any pretexes to a need to counter the LTTE's airborne threat, the end of combat with the decimation of the terror group has completely ended any speculation in that direction.
As Sri Lanka moves towards reconcilliation and reconstruction, the defence needs will move from a purely operational perspective to strategic. The desperate need we had to acquire easy to maintain work horses such as the Mig27s no longer exist, while with time Sri Lanka will become more self sufficient in their ability to deal with ground threats purely with ground forces backed by armor. In the worst case scenario the support of air mobile units supported by helicopted gun ships could easily become an adequate security arrangement.
Of greater interest will be the need to establish a maritime border patrol such as the proposed coast guard with ample fire power. Quite obviously the govt will have to look to the SLN to develop such a force using its impressively combat proven resources. The changes to the SLN's heirarchy at the very top may lead to a re-vamping of an ambitious fleet air arm, which may be limited to helicopter and UAV operations from the larger bodied off shore patrol craft.
How these short and long term future needs will be interpreted by the defence establishment in the post-war scenario will remain to be seen. But for now, Sri Lanka will not see any Mig29s in its air force.