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Cablegate: Country Team Assessment for Air Defense Radars

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

310737Z May 05

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000961

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MASS PREL PGOV PTER CE LTTE
SUBJECT: COUNTRY TEAM ASSESSMENT FOR AIR DEFENSE RADARS

REF: GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA REQUEST FOR DIRECT

COMMERCIAL PUCHASE OF AIR DEFENSE RADARS

1. THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA HAS REQUESTED THROUGH A US
COMPANY PRICE AND AVAILABILITY OF A COMPLETE SYSTEM
SALE FOR AN UNSPECIFIED NUMBER OF AIR DEFENSE RADARS.
LIKELY RADARS MENTIONED ARE THE SENTINEL OR ANTPQ36A. A
SYSTEM SALE WOULD INCLUDE ASSOCIATED SUPPORT EQUIPMENT,
TRAINING, SPARES AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE.

2. EMBASSY COLOMBO STRONGLY SUPPORTS THIS SALE AND IN
ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 70003 OF THE SAMM, THE FOLLOWING
INFORMATION IS SUBMITTED:

A. SRI LANKA REQUIRES AIR DEFENSE RADARS TO DEFEND ITS
SOVEREIGN AIRSPACE FROM AIR ATTACKS, INCLUDING SUICIDE
ATTACKS FROM LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM (LTTE)
AIRCRAFT. AS THE EVENTS OF 11 SEPTEMBER, 2001 CLEARLY
DEMONSTRATED, A SINGLE AIRCRAFT CAN BE A DEVASTATING WEAPON
IN THE HANDS OF A DETERMINED SUICIDE BOMBER. RECENT
INFORMATION IN THE OPEN MEDIA INDICATES THAT THE LTTE IS
NOW IN POSSESSION OF ORGANIC AIRCRAFT, AN ALL WEATHER
AIRFIELD AND, POSSIBLY, TRAINED PILOTS. SRI LANKA HAS NO
INTEGRATED AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM AND APART FROM THE CIVIL
SURVEILLANCE RADARS AT THE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, LACKS ANY
CAPABILITY TO DETECT INCOMING AIRCRAFT. AIR DEFENSE RADARS
WOULD GIVE THE SRI LANKA AIR FORCE THE BASIC ACQUISITION
CAPABILITY INHERENT TO AIR DEFENSE SYSTEMS THE WORLD OVER
AND WOULD PROVIDE A DETERRENT TO LTTE ATTEMPTS TO FLY INTO
A POLITICAL OR ECONOMIC TARGET IN THE SOUTH OF SRI LANKA.

B. WHILE NO AIR DEFENSE RADARS ARE CURRENTLY IN THE SLAF
INVENTORY, COMPATIBLE VERSIONS OF COUNTERFIRE RADAR ARE
PRESENT IN THE SRI LANKA ARMY. AIR DEFENSE RADARS WOULD
ADD A NEW, BUT COMPLETELY DEFENSIVE CAPABILITY TO SRI
LANKAN MILITARY, GIVING THE SLAF THE TECHNICAL ABILITY TO
DEFEND AGAINST THE AIR WING OF THIS FOREIGN TERRORIST
ORGANIZATION.

C. IT IS ANTICIPATED THAT SRI LANKA'S NEIGHBORS WILL HAVE
NO SIGNIFICANT OR NEGATIVE REACTION TO THIS SALE. INDIA
HAS ASSISTED SRI LANKA AGAINST THE LTTE IN A NUMBER OF
WAYS, NOT THE LEAST OF WHICH HAS BEEN MARITIME
INTERDICTION. THE INTRODUCTION OF A DEFENSIVE RADAR SYSTEM
THAT MIGHT REDUCE INDIA'S ASSISTANCE REQUIREMENTS WOULD
LIKELY BE VIEWED POSITIVELY IN NEW DELHI.

D. WITH PROPER TRAINING, SRI LANKA AIR FORCE MECHANICS
WILL HAVE NO TROUBLE WHATSOEVER IN MAINTAINING THESE
RADARS. AIRBORNE HISAR AND FLIR SYSTEMS ARE ALREADY IN USE
IN THE SLAF AND ARE MAINTAINED TO A HIGH STANDARD. THE
ARMY POSSESSES COUNTER-BATTERY RADARS THAT ARE SIMILAR IN
DESIGN TO THE AIR DEFENSE RADARS BEING SOUGHT BY THE AIR
FORCE. THIS MEANS THAT SOME DEGREE OF TECHNICAL EXPERTISE
EXISTS IN COUNTRY AND COULD BE CROSS-LEVELLED TO THE AIR
FORCE BY WAY OF ADVICE AND SUPPORT.

E. THIS SALE SHOULD BE FINANCED WITH COUNTRY FUNDS. THIS
PROCUREMENT WAS NOT INCLUDED IN THE ANNUAL DEFENSE
PROCUREMENT BUDGET FOR 2005, BUT SENIOR AIR FORCE OFFICIALS
HAVE VERIFIED THAT FUNDING WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE. SINCE
THE SRI LANKAN PRESIDENT IS PERSONALLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE
POSSIBILITY OF AN LTTE AIR ATTACK IN COLOMBO, SUFFICIENT
FUNDS SHOULD BE EARMARKED FOR THE PURCHASE WITHIN THE
REQUIRED TIME. THE OVERALL ECONOMIC IMPACT TO THE SRI
LANKAN ECONOMY IS LIKELY NEGLIGIBLE. WHILE MONEY IS TIGHT,
POST THINKS IT IS LIKELY THE FINANCE MINISTRY WOULD INSIST
ON OFFSETS AND OTHER LINE ITEMS TO KEEP FISCAL DISCIPLINE.
NATURALLY, FINANCING OPTIONS, SALE STRUCTURE AND NUMBER
OF UNITS PURCHASED WOULD IMPACT THIS ASSESSMENT.

F. HUMAN RIGHTS CONSIDERATIONS CONTINUE TO BE A PRIORITY
FOR EMBASSY COLOMBO. THE GENERAL LEVEL OF HUMAN RIGHTS
GUARANTEES IS GOOD AND IMPROVING CONTINUOUSLY IN SRI
LANKA. AS THIS SYSTEM IS DEFENSIVE IN NATURE AND CAN
ONLY BE USED AGAINST AN INBOUND AIRCRAFT, THIS
CONSIDERATION SHOULD NOT AFFECT THE PROPOSED SALE.

G. EMBASSY COLOMB0 STRONGLY RECOMMENDS THE APPROVAL OF
THIS PROPOSED SALE.

3. POC FOR THIS ACTION IS LTC RICHARD S. GIRVEN, ARMY AND
DEFENSE ATTACHE, USDAO COLOMBO.
LUNSTEAD

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