India decides to improve air defence in the south
Going by the people who attended a meeting to discuss the issue, it does appear that the Indian government is taking the threat posed by the LTTE’s air wing with some seriousness. The meeting included the political, bureaucratic and military top brass. It decided to to improve air surveillance and naval patrolling and also to move more fighter aircraft to the south.
That’s necessary, but not sufficient. India must also assist the Sri Lankan armed forces to clip the LTTE’s wings. Understandably, media reports do not say whether or not the high-level meeting discussed this at all.
Col (retd) R Hariharan in Frontline:
Coming to the specifics of the situation created by the activation of the Air Tigers, India has a national security responsibility to ensure that an air arm outside the pale of international law does not appear on the horizon in the vicinity of India’s airspace. India’s lackadaisical attitude towards the Sea Tigers’ operations in the Palk Straits has led to the loss of lives and kidnapping of Indian citizens. Now, when the LTTE aircraft bombed the oil installations near Colombo, they were bombing part of the assets of a company owned by the Government of India. It is high time India sent a clear message to the LTTE that it has to curb its air and sea activity in India’s vicinity…
Translated into the current situation, it means assisting the Sri Lankan security forces to make them operationally competent while the Sri Lanka government introduces a viable political solution addressing Tamil grievances and providing an equitable solution to all communities.
As regards the support systems for the Air Tigers that might operate from India, keeping a strict vigil on aviation training, smuggling of fuel and lubricants, sale of aircraft spares, manufacture of essential parts for rockets, improvised explosives and so on, would make it extremely difficult to smuggle them to the LTTE. This would involve coordination of Central and State Intelligence agencies, aviation engineering and flying establishments, and the police and coastal security systems. The sooner we do this the better because the LTTE has added a new dimension to terror. [Frontline]