US$ 6m overhaul for three combat aircraft

The Government will spend US$ 6 million (around Rs. 684 million) to overhaul three Chinese-built combat aircraft as part of modernization plans for the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF).

Three Karakorum or K-8 SLAF fighter jets are to be equipped with a Head Up Display System (HUD) and a Multi-Function Display (MFD) configuration. The HUD is a display panel that presents data to pilots without having to look away from their usual viewpoints. The MFD on the instrument panel of the fighter jets puts on display data from radar, weapons stores and navigation information.

The Cabinet last month approved the payment of US $ 6,040,300 to China National Aero Technology Import and Export Company (CATIC) for the overhaul deal. It came on a recommendation made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is Minister of Defence.

A negotiation committee that worked out the deal with CATIC has said the brand new price offered for K-8 combat aircraft including HUD/MFD modification in 2008 was US $ 2.7 million each. According to them, the overhauled aircraft would also have the same flying lifetime of a brand new K -8 aircraft.

Part of the existing fleet of Sri Lanka Air force K – 8 fighters are used to train jet pilots. Others have been used in combat. The three aircraft to be overhauled will be shipped to Shanghai and moved to a CATIC facility where the upgrading work is to be carried out. The K-8 is fitted with a US built engine and is manufactured in China.

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