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DateLine Sunday, 19 August 2007





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

This is the MIG deal

The purchase of the MiG-27 fighter jets to the Sri Lanka Air Force to effectively face the challenges of the LTTE in the North and East has once again become a controversial topic among the public.

With some elements trying to explain the deal as one of the most corrupt deal running into millions of dollars, the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Ministry of Defence squarely rejected the allegations saying that there was no room for anyone to make a profit out of the deal.

Some politicians had taken the issue for their own political advantage highlighting the purchase as one of the most corrupt deals undertaken by the Government and even went to the extent of taking it before the Commission to investigate Bribery or Corruption, to place the Government responsible for the alleged charges.

But anyone who had closely monitored the process adopted by the Sri Lanka Air Force to purchase the four MiG-27 would have understood that there was no possibility at all for any individual to interfere in the purchasing process of the MiG -27.


The requirement to purchase MiG-27 came from the Sri Lanka Air Force with the on-going intensive operations to crush terror activities of the LTTE in the North and East. The requirement came as the SLAF had only few attack aircraft in 2006 for all the operations that had to be carried out in the North and East.

Though the SLAF's requirement was for two full squadrons of twenty four (24) fighter jets but were left with only four MiGs which had completed their lifespan and another nine Kfir fighter jets to carry out its operations.

Fifty per cent of fleet are serviceable but only half of them could be used for operations duty on a daily basis. That means, there was 50 per cent short fall in jets to carry out its operations effectively.

It was under these circumstances, three out of the seven MiG 27 available with the SLAF were put out of service, one in July 01, 2000, another on December 27, 2001, and the third one in June 9, 2004. The balance four MiG 27 fighters have been grounded due to completion of lifespan and were in dire need of urgent overhaul.

The first option

With SLAF pointing out this requirement, the government first sought the assistance of the Indian Government as it was known that nearly 200 MiGs were available in the Indian Air Force.

The request was forwarded to the Indian Government when President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited India. But India rejected the request on the basis that Indian Air Force cannot spare the available MiGs to another Air Force.

Then, the SLAF had to turn to Ukraine, from whom the Government of Sri Lanka had purchased MiG 27s earlier in the year 2000.

Since the manufacture of MiG 27 had ceased by 1991, the Government had to choosen the best out of the available lot from Ukraine.

The SLAF then called for quotations from the Ukrinmash Company in Ukraine, which was the sole manufacturer for MiGs, for four MiG 27M aircraft and also to overhaul another three MiG 27 and one MiG 23 UB. Under these circumstances the Ministry of Defence gave clearance to the SLAF to go ahead with the purchase.


THE PROCESS: Appointment of TEC

On February 16, 2006, the Ministry of Defence requested the National Procurement Agency to appoint a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) to evaluate the proposal and also nominate the members to the Committee.

Accordingly, the NPC appointed a six-member Committee, which comprised Air Vice Marshal W. D. R. M. J. Goonetilleke (Chairman), Air Commodore E. G. J. P. De Silva, Director, Aeronautical Engineer, H. D. Weerasiri, Accountant, Ministry of Defence, Dr.D. P. T. Nanayakkara, Senior Lecturer, University of Moratuwa, J. V. Premaratna, Deputy Director (Airworthiness) Civil Aviation Authority, Mrs. K. D. R. Olga, Accountant, Department of Budget.

After detailed evaluation of the proposal submitted by the Ukrainian company purchase of four MiG 27 M aircraft from Ukrinmash was recommended.

The committee also evaluated other proposals submitted by the DS Alliance in Sri Lanka, HAL Company in India, Hazel Company in UK, to overhaul the other four aircraft.With the approval given by the TEC, a Cabinet-appointed procurement Committee was appointed to approve procurement. The Committee decided to appoint a negotiation committee consisting of civil officers from the public service.

Following members Premathilake, Director General/ State Accounts, H. M. T. D. Herath, Senior Assistant Secretary, Presidential Secretariat, N. J. P. Gunasekera, Accountant Ministry of Defence and Air Vice Marshal A. M. M. Goonatilleke and Air Commodore Silva were appointed to negotiate the price with Ukrinmash.

However, the Ukrinmash stated that the price quoted was the best bargain as the deal was done on a G to G basis. With this, the Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee approved the purchase.

Then a six-member committee including Director Aeronautical Engineering, a MiG pilot, an interpreter and a civilian member of the TEC visited Ukraine to conduct a thorough check on the aircraft engines and on the three overhaul facilities in Ukraine.

Then the Ministry prepared the Cabinet Memorandum to purchase the four MiG 27 and to overhaul the other four aircraft. With the Cabinet giving the nod for the deal, on July 6, 2006 two teams from the Sri Lanka Air Force visited Ukraine to observe the overhaul process spending 16 weeks there.

Air Force Commander Air Vice Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke formally accepted the aircraft from the Ukrinmash company at the end of last year, after a factory inspection.

Why SLAF selected MiG- 27

The major reason for the SLAF to decide on the purchase was due to its capability with its capacity to transport maximum pay load, 3,000 Kgs at one time. In other words it could fly with 6 to 8 bombs weighing 500 Kgs, at one time.

If the SLAF selected a brand new ground attack craft other than the MiG -27 it had to go for pilot conversions because they already had trained pilots to handle Mig 27s. If they go for a new aircraft the SLAF will have to train their pilots for that particular aircraft which will definitely be an added burden for the SLAF.

Apart from this the SLAF has to train the maintenance crew if they go for a new aircraft at this point, with an additional burden on the economy and the SLAF.

The SLAF did not go for a MiG 29 at that time since there was no necessity for them to have an aircraft which can play the role of an interceptor as it was the time prior to the LTTE coming out with air capabilities.

If they had to go for brand new aircraft they had to either select MiG 30 which is too sophisticated for the SLAF. This will be an additional burden on the economy as it will increase the expenditure by five to six fold, another additional burden on the economy. Difference between earlier and latest purchases

The difference between the purchase of MiG 27 in 2000 and the latest procurement was based on the lifespan of the aircraft. In comparison of the life time of the aircraft purchased in the year 2000 with 2006, it has been revealed that there was a cost advantage of US dollar 530,375 per aircraft per year for the Sri Lankan Government on the purchase of MiG 27 M in 2006.In 2006 Sri Lanka's purchase of four MiG 27s with eight years lifespan compared to the two years lifespan of the aircraft purchased in the year 2000.

With the purchase of MiG 27 in 2000 Government had to pay extra to extend the lifespan. Apart from the purchase of four aircraft the Ukrinmash also agreed to fully overhaul the four remaining MiGs lying idle with the SLAF. Earlier cheaper prices were offered for these aircraft to purchase them without any overhaul of the aircraft. This time, prices have been offered for the purchase of aircraft with a eight years lifespan.

Negotiations with Ukraine

Since the deal has been classified as a Govt. to Govt. basis, the mode of payment was done according to the agreement which was reached with Ukrinmash, a fully Government Company.

The Ukrinmash had nominated Bellimissa Holdings Ltd., to receive the payments from the Government of Sri Lanka on behalf of the Ukrinmash as it was the financier of the deal. According to the Government, on many occasions the Government had made payments to companies nominated by the respective Governments though negotiations were done on the G to G basis.

Air Vice Marshal Roshan Goonetilleke, Commander of SLAF:

"I cannot understand as to why some people continue to make allegations on the MiG 27 deal. I had clarified this matter. They make allegations that these are obsolete aircraft and old aircraft, and also say that lives of pilots are in danger.

"Then they say we are buying the same aircraft which we bought in 2000, now at a higher price. Then they also say that what we had rejected then in 2000, we are purchasing now. These allegations do not present the correct picture.

"Because in 2000, we purchased so many aircraft. So that does not mean that the aircraft we did not purchase then were not suitable. They were suitable alright but we went for the most suitable at that time. But we have to go to the same place again and buy. So that's what happened in 2006. We selected four more aircraft out of them and no one can say we rejected them in 2000.

"But we buy what we think is suitable for us and not the commentators. But this is not unsuitable. Some people say that there should have been competent evaluation team to see whether the SLAF needs MiG 27. But the thing that they always forget is the fact that we already have MiG 27.So somebody thinks that MiGs are good in 2000 we are only adding to the fleet. So that point is disproved there.

"Then what we bought in 2000 and 2006, there is one basic difference. In 2000 we got it without an overhaul. In 2006 we did an overhaul before buying it. Obviously when you do an overhaul you have to add the overhaul cost to the price. Overhaul costs money.

You have to remove the entire engine, and do all the tests. Check from A to Z everything. When you add all these aspects, actually what we had bought this time was a good bargain.

"Our pilots are very pleased about the aircraft. It is absolutely untrue to say that our pilots do not like this aircraft. And they have affirmed that this is good aircraft to fly especially with lots of power. We are on several offensive operations against the LTTE.

In my opinion and the opinion of all pilots this MiG 27 is good for our scenario. But this an old aircraft. But younger than the Kfirs. May be some people write these things with some ulterior motives. May be we can give them a better picture if they contact us.

"The CO of the MiG also confirms the fact that MiG 27 is a reliable machine and a very effective machine to fly. They are confident to fly" MiG 27s. He says the SLAF used the MiG 27 extensively and effectively for their operations in the North and East".


What is MiG 27?

MiG 27 is an attack aircraft capable of carrying a wide range of ammunition. Effectively used ground attacks aircraft and is capable of delivering munitions accurately on enemy position. The aircraft was first introduced to SLAF in 2000.

Presidential directive

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has requested the BriberyCommission to commence an immediate probe into the recent MIG 27 deal. Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga said President Rajapaksa has asked the Bribery Commissioner to make an independent investigation.



Air Force's Serviceability

Prior to the purchase of four MIG 27s, the SLAF only had an air serviceability of 50%.

The used MIG 27 brought from 2000 to 2005 were grounded after ending their certified number of 100 flying hours. But with the introduction of four MIG 27 after overhauling by Ukraine Marsh, the serviceability of SLAF has been increased to 75%.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Mount View Residencies

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