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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative >LTTE talks peace and shops for Russian Missiles
LTTE talks peace and shops for Russian
9 March 2003 - Iqbal Athas, Sri Lanka Sunday Times
Whilst talking peace with the UNF Government, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) appears to have not relented on intensified preparations for war.
If recruiting new cadres including children and smuggling in military hardware through the north-eastern coast, some on the verge of being detected by the Navy, are part of such preparations, now comes more shocking news.
It is better said in the words of the Russian Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Mikhail G. Karpov. The Sunday Times learns that he handed over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week a Non Paper. In diplomatic parlance such a document does not reflect official policy of a Government. But it forms the basis for a dialogue on a subject matter with the host country. This is what Mr. Karpov's Non Paper says:
"On February 15, 2003, according to the information received from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Laos, two Sri Lankan citizens contacted in Vientiane the representative of the Russian State Unitary Enterprise "Rosboronoexport" (state company dealing with military and technological co-operation).
"Their aim was to buy small infantry arms, portable anti-aircraft missile complex "IGLA," communications means and other types of Russian weapons. As it was found out later, these people were members of the LTTE. All contacts with them were immediately stopped. One of these men holding Passport ND 444392 was identified as Mr. THANGARAYAH.
"The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Laos has informed the Ministry of Public Security of Laos about the presence of two LTTE members in the territory of their country."
Rosboronoexport is now the Russian state organisation for the export/import of all military products. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on November 4 2000, to establish this "Federal State unitary Enterprise Rosbor-onoexport" by merging two State companies - Rosvooruzhenie and Promoexport.
It is not immediately clear which type of "IGLA" portable anti aircraft missile complex the LTTE has sought to acquire this time. It is, however, known by the security establishment that Tiger guerrillas have used an early version of IGLA (SA 14) to attack Sri Lanka Air Force aircraft.
Proof of this came in June 1998 when the Army, during a search operation on a guerrilla hideout in Mannar, seized an IGLA launcher and two missiles. It came during a period when "Operation Jaya Sikurui" (Victory Assured) to seize control of the Alpha-Nine highway from Vavuniya to Kilinochchi was under way during the tenure of the People's Alliance Government. The near two-year long offensive was called off after it became the country's worst military disaster both in human and material losses. It later turned out that the missiles had been moved to Mannar to be fired at SLAF helicopters that were landing there to move troops to the north.
Why is the LTTE now seeking a new IGLA missile complex? It is quite clearly to knock off the air strike capability of the SLAF in the event of any confrontation. It is no secret that the Israeli built Kfir interceptor jets, Russian built Mig 27s and other attack aircraft of the SLAF have posed serious threats to the Tiger guerrillas.
One of the main aims of the Tiger guerrilla attack on the SLAF Base and the adjoining Bandaranaike International Airport at Katunayake on July 24 2001 was to destroy these aircraft and thus diminish the air attack capability of the SLAF. However, only one Mig 27 was made non airworthy. The surface to air missiles could also be used to attack SLAF transport aircraft like in April 1995, soon after PA government -LTTE peace talks failed.
The procurement of small infantry arms and communications units by the LTTE is said to be for its expanding military. If the LTTE is known to be in possession of older versions of IGLA, a variety of modern state-of-the-art shoulder fired versions are now being manufactured in Russia. The following examples will give one an idea of the many �IGLA� versions now available and the ravage that could be caused if the LTTE were to acquire any one of them.
1. SA-18 GROUPS (IGLA 9K38) SA-N-10 GROUSE (IGLA M) - The SA-18 GROUSE (Igla 9K38) is an improved variant in the SA-7 & SA-14 series of man-portable SAMs. As with the earlier SA-14, the SA-18 uses a similar thermal battery/gas bottle, and the SA-18 has the same 2 kilogram high-explosive warhead fitted with a contact and grazing fuse. But the missile of entirely new design with substantially improved range and speed. The new seeker and aerodynamic improvements extend its effective range, and its higher speed enables it to be used against faster targets. The SA-18 has a maximum range of 5200 meters and a maximum altitude of 3500 meters.
The 9M39 missile SA-18 employs an IR (Infra Red) guidance system using proportional convergence logic. The new seeker offers better protection against electro-optical jammers; the probability of kill against an unprotected fighter is estimated at 30-40%.
2. SA-16 GIMLET (Igla-9K310) man-portable surface-to-air missile system, a further development from the SA-7 & SA-14 series, is an improved version of the SA-18 GROUSE, which was introduced in 1983, three years before the SA-16. The SA-16 features a new seeker and modified launcher nose cover. Whereas the SA-18 9M39 missile is fitted with an aerodynamic spike on the nose, the 9M310 missile of the SA-16 has the spike replaced with an aerodynamic cone held in place with a wire tripod. On the SA-18 the protective cover of the seeker is conical, on the SA-16 it is tubular with a prominent lip at the forward edge.
The 9M313 missile of the SA-16 employs an IR (Infra Red) guidance system using proportional convergence logic, and an improved two-colour seeker, presumably IR and UV (Infra Red and Ultra Violet). The seeker is sensitive enough to home in on airframe radiation and the two-colour sensitivity is designed to minimize vulnerability to flares. The SA-16 has a maximum range of 5000 meters and a maximum altitude of 3500 meters.
3. Missile 9M39 of the portable anti-aircraft missile system "Igla" (9K38) is designed for defeat of visually observed jet, turbo-prop and piston-engined aircrafts and helicopters on head-on and tail-on courses under conditions of influence of natural (background) and false heat jammings.
The missile is fired by a gunner from the shoulder in a standing or kneeling position from a fire position on the terrain providing good observation of air space. PAMS "Igla" possesses automatic introduction of elevation and lead angles, deep destruction of warhead, uses detonating fuel in propulsion system and displacement circuit in a homing head ensuring the missile hit into the most vulnerable components of the target and allows to defeat effectively modern aircrafts and helicopters of enemy.
It was only last week, as exclusively revealed in these columns, the security forces and the Tiger guerrillas were at a near confrontation situation. The consequences of the guerrillas being armed with most modern anti aircraft missiles in such a situation is unthinkable.
The flashpoint came after the incident where the Navy rounded up seven guerrilla cadres, five armed. The situation was defused by the intervention of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) In the aftermath of this near mishap, the translated transcript of a Tamil radio intercept between two LTTE bases in the east - Base 28 (Karuna) and Base 11 (Paduman) - by a state security arm is revealing. This is what it says:
Base 28 (Karuna): I am Karuna. How are you Paduman? As you requested we have organised a massive rally. For that I require some details. Let me know your ideas, what should be said at this meeting. Base 11 (Paduman): I am Paduman. Is it clear if it is said as Kalpanna junction? This is the inside road leading to Thiriyaya. This road falls into Gomarankadawela too. The other road falls to Kuchchuweli. During the war this was under our control. We opened this after the MoU for the benefit of our people. But the security forces have visited this area from time to time. We do not know about this. We have one of our camps and our cadres are on patrol.
On that day security forces personnel surrounded about ten of our cadres and ordered them to surrender. I also came from there on that day and they were asking me whether to surrender. I told them not to surrender but open fire, kill them and die. About 200 to 300 security forces personnel have surrounded them.
During this incident our cadres from the camp and those on the road were in touch with me. The Monitoring Mission came and solved the problem and asked both parties to go. So the problem was solved without an incident. I explained to him that this area is under our control. Now we are carrying out patrols in this area. Police (in Trincomalee) arrested five of our cadres. It does not look like they are releasing them. They are postponing the release through the courts. Raise this issue at the discussions and try to get them released. I spoke to Tamilselvan too. I said not to release the two persons who are in our custody till they are released. You also speak about this.
Base 28 (Karuna): Clear. From the information I have received now, the two persons from the security forces are to be released. I will immediately speak to Tamilselvan about this. Apart from this has there been any other incidents to hamper the peace in your area?
Base 11 (Paduman): Here there are only jungle areas under our control. From time to time security forces personnel visit these areas. We have to put a stop to this. Is it clear if I say Nijabullah (Muslim people). Mossad group is also the same. If the war starts we won't spare a single one. I have organised it that way. I have organised our cadres even now for an assault. When I went I took a group with Udayan.
Base 28 (Karuna): When you come to my area you must come and stay for about four to five days with me. You will be able to see the situation in our area. I have informed Ramesh group how to react if there is an incident here. If you also come and have a look it will be good. I said at the meeting at Berlin in Germany to release our five cadres. I scared them by saying about you and arresting about more than ten security forces personnel so there would be more problems. Amma (President) is also not for peace. Now the government has asked the security forces to be on alert. Don't know whether the alert means to send them home or to send them to the north. If the war starts this time we have the power to create lot of damage.
Base 11 (Paduman): Clear. I am also prepared to face any problem and have trained my people also for that. There are no losses. Everything is done properly. I will be travelling in a different vehicle. Tamilselvan brother will travel in another vehicle. I am organising it this way so that we can join and hold a meeting. Base 28 (Karuna): Good work. You said you would push one? How is it?
Base 11 (Paduman): Clear. One is already pushed. Hoping to push another one.
Base 28 (Karuna): It is good if you work thinking that the people cannot face a war in the future. Otherwise we will have to face big problems. Base 11 (Paduman): Tilak is doing his job correctly. Now we have included more people. There are no problems about this.
Base 28 (Karuna): On that day when both of us were coming we were surrounded. How did we manage to get down and come. If we learn to save our lives without fear it is good for us in the future. Base 11 (Paduman): Clear. Like you went to Japan and Canada don't think of going to Kandy.
Base 28 (Karuna): Clear. The five persons in custody referred to in the above conversation are those now in remand prison in Trincomalee. They were arrested on November 1, last year, after claymore mines were detected in a boat they were travelling in. An application seeking bail for them is expected to come up before the Court of Appeal tomorrow.
The UNF Government's response to the latest attempt by the LTTE to procure anti aircraft missiles and other military items is yet to come. The Government will of course be concerned about the development. However, it is too early to expect a response since the Russian Non Paper has been handed over only this week and the Government would have to examine the matter.