The Colombo trip is only Imran Khan’s second foray in the neighborhood since he became Prime Minister, but it was largely also to push for the sale of the JF-17 fighter jet to the Srilankan Air force (SLAF) which was also most close to the inking purchase of the jets 4 years before India started its diplomatic pushback. Back then, India had offered Sri Lanka to supply locally made LCA-Tejas jets at friendly financial terms (soft loans) to replace its aging Chinese Chengdu F-7 fighter jets and fill in for the retired Mig-27 jets.

SLAF also operates Israeli-built Kfirs jets that they plan to upgrade with the latest avionics and keep in service for the next few years. SLAF wanted to acquire 8 jets initially with the possibility of purchase of 4 additional jets but Sri Lanka was unable to proceed with plans to acquire JF 17 Thunder jets built jointly by Pakistan-China during the previous Rajapaksa administration, LCA-Tejas will be landing in Sri Lanka for the first time, confirming the Indian offer to the Sri Lanka is real and now being pushed at the tiny neighbor.

As per media reports, the LCA-Tejas Single seater and Trainer jet will be part of the 70-year celebration of SLAF from 3rd March onwards and the Twin seater aircraft will be kept for demonstration and evaluations for the Srilankan Air Force Senior ranked officials. India also has offered to train its crew and pilots free of charge if SLAF selects LCA-Tejas for its requirements.

LCA-Tejas got a massive boost to its image after IAF agreed to place fresh orders for the jet. LCA-Tejas will be also visiting Bangladesh next year to attend a local air show where the same might be offered again to the Bangladeshi air force that is concerned about the supply of JF-17 jets to the Myanmar air force recently by China and Pakistan and is planning to counter with purchase of newer jets.

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