Friday, February 22, 2008

SLAF Delay Gets LTTE Off-the-hook

A four-hour delay in a bombing run by the Sri Lanka Air Force resulted in a missed high-profile decapitation strike planned several days ago. The target was a conference attended by 'Colonels' Swarnam, Bhanu and Jeyam in north Mannar.

The SLAF usually takes four hours to prep the jets, from the point of receiving the Military Intelligence tipoff to the actual delivery of the designated payload to the target. As a result, by the time the bombs were dropped, the Tiger conference had concluded.

Minutes after the bombing, the three tiger leaders came back on air as they exchanged messages using codenames associated with them (example Karuna -Kilo Serra). The conference attended by all three tiger leaders was confirmed through both ground and aerial recon.

Yesterday's bombing of LTTE heavy gun positions in Mannar north has also been inaccurate for the same reasons. This is further compounded by the high speeds of the jet bombers. MI sources claim not every SLAF pilot is capable of running an accurate dive bombing run all the time.

Meanwhile the Intelligence Officer (IO) for Putlam is being overwhelmed as usual. He was to be replaced by a highly competent officer, who refused the job. The coastline from Kalpitiya to Wattala has traditionally been a difficult area to manage. Drug (narcotics) lords, supported by politicians and the police hold the sway in these areas. Their links with the LTTE runs deep.

Further complicating these matters, certain Muslim politicians from Puttlam, many of whom are originally from LTTE controlled areas, and their armed underworld goons, have developed relationships with the LTTE. It is believed that some may have even assisted the LTTE smuggle weapons into Colombo.


Sun Tzu's disciple said...

4 HOURS!!!

Is this for real?
The standard 'scramble time' for the average airforces is usually around 15 minutes or less, add 7 minutes flight time to Wanni and it should be a done thing by 30 minutes max--esp for a pre-determined target in a wartime situation.If bombers are already over the warzone on other missions/loiter the reaction time can be only a few minutes.

Re Targeting LTTE artillery--I cant really see the problem.The SLA has got highly accurate Firefinders which can pinpoint the source in seconds, which can then direct the loitering UAVs/other crafts equipped with flare/heat sensors to exact coordinates in seconds, so that Bombers/MBRLs/Artillery/Heavy mortars/Mi-gunships can be dispatched pronto.I cannot think of anything big, artillery or otherwise, which wont be wiped out by a full salvo of MBRLs if coordinates are fed(even if target partially buried)
I dont think the LTTE can do much in terms of hiding the guns in view of above arguments and in view of the flat semi-arid terrain: the only explanation would be incompetent use of equipment or poor coordination by SLDFs?

Unknown said...

"HRW Calls for Sanctions on LTTE, Karuna Group"




Sun Tzu's disciple said...


Dont worry--the UN is a wimp who stood cowering while the Hutus butchered the Tutsis outside their compound and while the Serbs massacred Craoatians in their 'safe zone'.
So I dont think they will ever be of any military threat to SL--whose forces outnumber even UK/Australia etc!
It has no power or will to rein-in either the LTTE or GoSL(sadly)

RomeoAlphaFoxtrot said...

DefenceWire - without revealing sensitive info, can you let us know on what state of preparedness is a SLAF aircraft kept on ?

- With regard to the F-7s (maybe the k-8s also) in an air-to-air role wud need to be ready to be sent ASAP to take on any enemy aircraft.
- Mi-24s wud need to be on alert 24/7 for CAS or any other enemy activity in any area (e.g like colombo and trinco harbour)
- Mi-17s, BEll 212 and 414 wud also need to be on alert 24/7 for transportation of troops, personnel incuding VVIps.

What about our ground attack aircrafts? The Kfirs and the Mig-27s?

I'm guessing that based on the intel and the area/target to be taken out, the ammunition would differ and they would have to be loaded last moment. But wont they have to be on alert all the time ?

perein said...

Let's get ready for the next one. Could be lucky this time.
We need to undestand SLAF doing a greate job currently, so let's learn from those and get ready for next event.

Anonymous said...

DW use the word "as usuall". Thus this 4 hour is really not a 'delay'. Question is can't SLAF reduce this 'preperation time' some how?

Moshe Dyan said...

very disappointing.

it is usual because it has happened before. the day when the DS, Army Commander, etc. planned to inaugurate the mechanised infantry division, LTTE shelled palaly at 8am while the SLAF bombed them at 11:45am.

3 hours and 45 minutes.

i believe the 4 hour delay story.

bombing atri. positions need not be 100% accurate to be effective. Although it is HIGHLY desireable that LTTE arti. pieces are destroyed, even a not-so-accurate bombing raid has the benefit of stopping the terrorists from firing arti. at SLA positions allowing SLA to either attack or to go to safety.

Renegade! said...


That's disappointing,but mistakes due to unavoidable circumstances,do this case,its surprising why it took so long(4 hrs),for ALL the relevant fighter jets,to be readied for attack..don't we have atleast 2/3 fighters on standby,ready to "scramble",at short notice!!..SLAF,being an experienced outfit,should know better..unless,of course some aircraft were being repaired/overhauled,etc-that's beyond anybody's control,that's why effective planning is critical in these instances...

And why can't we forwrd deploy some of our Mig-27's/Kfirs,to maybe china bay AB?-maybe after extending it..

jiffy said...

cant run a war like this comrades. we need to make those 4hours come down somehow. maybe its due to a shortage of experienced pilots and ground teams?

chamal said...

This is great target missed....

By '4 hours' do you mean that even the attacks targeting artillery was carried out 4 hrs after pinpointing locations? Is this the case everytime?

prabath said...

DW, where are you ? you have to answer for these questions. we all are waiting

Unknown said...

Defencewire is this related to claimed bombing of civilians in Poonery?

If so why would SLAF even bother doing the run if there was such a delay I don't understand, did they hope the meeting was still going on after 4 hours?

if anything they only helped to tip off the LTTE that there was an intel leak about the meeting which helps them further to track down the leak.

Not to mention civilian casualties if this is correct and related. IMHO a bad decision to go ahead with the strike package.

Unknown said...

I can't undestand this 4 hour delay. If it is true then we are really in trouble. In case, if LTTE launch a decisive attack in the north, we do have to wait 4 hours to take our flights off from the ground. This is funny.

Raptor said...

I dont really buy this 4 hour story. For a fact I know the SLAF has atleast two fighters at all times bombed and fueled, these are kept in what are called alert barns. I was told that it takes about half hour for them to scramble.

Also think about it, when going on ground strike missions, the coordinates have to be loaded onto the planes onboard systems, the pilots have to be briefed and maybe special ordinance has to be loaded on to the jets.

This isnt a dash to intercept an incoming threat. The Isreali's managed to turn round their jets in 7 mintues during the six day war, but they had pre picked all their targets so it was easier.

But I dont buy 4 hours, certainly not as a standard time. Maybe one this occassion.

Unknown said...

"I dont really buy this 4 hour story. For a fact I know the SLAF has atleast two fighters at all times bombed and fueled, these are kept in what are called alert barns. I was told that it takes about half hour for them to scramble.

I think perhaps DW means four hours total for the entire decision making process finally making its way to the SLAF etc, so failure throughout the chain as opposed to four hours just for SLAF to get ready for the strike.

jiffy said...

^^ that would make more sense. so what needs to happen then is for intel to be passed on and acted on faster. get rid of the bottlenecks in the command chain etc..

DW can you explain a little more about this when you have the time?

LKDOOD said...

Sri Lanka raid 'kills civilians'


45 killed in Lankan ground clashes, air force bombs Kilinochchi


Defencewire said...

Rather unfortunate, but SLAF still has some 'glitches'. Before the pilots take off, they must be asked to stay inside the base. This is not a 9-5 job. Even when they are there, sometimes reaction time is slow.

The pilots have to meet a superior officer who hand them the task. Then there's a briefing of the mission, and then only do they take to the sky. Sometimes, somewhere in between, there's a delay. sometimes as many as 4hrs.

This 4hrs is not a given for all missions, but when it happens, and the targets are as high profile as this, we miss out.

The problem with the last bombing on the gun positions was an inaccuracy problem, not so much a delay. Our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

The dive bombing is a special art and not everyone has the guts to dive at a target over tree-tops at 700kmph. Some pilots are more accurate than others.

All in all, MI guys who give the coordinates have got a little frustrated with things. This will however pass. No need to panick. The proper instructions will come from Sec Def if the problem persists as the guys' complaints will be channeled to him directly by Gen Fonseka as and when required.

Defencewire said...

Although you cannot rule-out the possibility of civilian casualties, the SLAF and Mi take maximum precautions against it. But shrapnel damages, shock etc can cause civilian injuries, sometimes death because LTTE's vital points are placed very cunningly in highly built-up areas.

LKDOOD said...


check this
Video out !

OneSpirit said...

In my humble opinion, the entire concept of having three separate and distinct Armed Forces with different chains of command is archaic. The separation of the armed forces is centuries old and was intended for different types of wars. Furthermore, it was almost always, for political purposes (the politicians were/are afraid of all that military power concentrated in a single command structure as it could be a threat to their stranglehold on power).

Although now MAY not be the best time to experiment, SLDF needs to implement and practice procedures that cut through all these 4 chains of command when the need arises, so that we do not create "missed opportunities".

NOLTTE=Peace said...


I agree with you too. We have to have combat units organised as specialised combat groups with access to any type of resources within the group. These resources may include Air, Sea, Artillery, tank etc power.

We are slowly getting there with SBS etc.

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