Procurement: Second Hand MiG-27s and Kfirs Go To War


December27, 2006: Sri Lanka has purchased another four second-hand MiG-27 fighter bombers. The aircraft are being purchased from Ukraine, for about $2.5 million each. This is the second MiG-27 purchase, as six were bought in 2000, along with a MiG-23. Since then, three of the MiG-27s have been lost, two to accidents (equipment failure while airborne) and one on the ground due to an enemy attack. When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Ukraine found itself the owner of thousands of Soviet warplanes, which had been based there in anticipation of a war with NATO countries. Ukraine did not need most of these aircraft, especially the older ones like the MiG-23s and 27s (both from the 1970s.)

The 20 ton MiG-27 is a ground attack version of the MiG-23 (which was the Russian successor to the MiG-21, and influenced by the American F-4 Phantom). The MiG-27 carries a 30mm cannon (with 300 shells), and up to four tons of bombs or missiles. Sri Lanka also has a dozen Israel Kfir fighter bombers (an Israeli design based on the French Mirage 5). Israel stopped using the Kfir in the 1990s and has been selling them off cheap. The Kfir is a 14 ton aircraft with two 30mm cannon (with 120 shells each), and can carry up to five tons of other weapons. Sri Lanka has been using the Mig-27s and Kfirs to attack LTTE rebel base camps and artillery positions.


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