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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Tamil Armed Resistance > Reports of Armed Conflict > Lanka Air Security Strategy : Perimeter Defence & Over the Horizon "Radar"
Lanka Air Security Strategy
"On-line surveillance outsmarts radar at airbase after flying Tiger attack"
Namal Suvendra, 1 April 2007
Sri Lankaís military has adopted a near fool-proof system to ensure that the main air force base and the adjoining international airport are protected against possible Tiger aerial strikes, a top defense source said today.
The green canopy of coconut trees surrounding the Katunayake air base and the Bandaranaike international airport will provide the foundation for the new early warning system against an air attack, the source said.
He said the move was prompted by the attack carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) using two low-flying aircraft which were in the air for well over two hours and returned to a secret location unchallenged. "We will send airmen to man coconut tree tops and look out for any enemy aircraft," the source said adding that the failure of the Indian-installed radar made the military look closer home.
"This is a fool proof system. There are built-in safeguards against an airman sleeping on the job. If he does, he will fall off the tree like a coconut," he said.
The network linking the trees will help airmen swap positions and kill boredom, he added. The same network can be used to pass on any information literally on-line. The broadband connection will help quick downloads of the sweet coconut sap before it ferments and turns to toddy, a favorite local drink.
Analysts noted that the new air defense system had the added bonus of ensuring that airmen would be cheerful and morale could be maintained at a high level at all times.
The Tigers had no immediate comment, but a rebel spokesman privately admitted that the new air defense system posed a serious threat to their fleet of Czech-built "ZLIN Z 143 LS" aircraft. "We were counting on the military buying a high tech thermal imaging system to track aircraft," the rebel official who declined to be named told the Associated Press. "We could have fooled that, but not toddy-tappers disguised as airmen."
A squadron of high-flying toddy-tappers has been recruited to train the airmen. However, unlike regular toddy tappers, the tree top look outs will not be allowed to carry pots, smoke pot or resort to any potty aerobatics. They will, instead, be encouraged to pluck coconuts that will be handed over to the trade minister to help bring down prices during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year season.
Once the airmen have mastered the art of their "on-line" skills, they will be trained in throwing "dashing crackers," better known as Cheena-patas, at low flying objects. Since "five-zero" anti-aircraft guns proved ineffective on Monday, it was decided to use the expertise of the nearby Kimbulapitiya village, famed as the capital of fireworks, and provide sky-rockets and dashing crackers to the airmen so that they can use such tried and tested resources against light aircraft.
China has already been approached to help improve the local fireworks industry which is emerging as a "dual service" facility providing both entertainment and valuable inputs for the defense establishment.
Meanwhile, coconut growers in Katunayake have staged a protest against airmen reaching new heights, arguing that the move has made any coconut tree a legitimate military target for Tigers. The air force dismissed the claim saying that trees were always a top target for the Tigers because of the huge revenue the state collected from toddy rentals, excise tax and other levies.