Sri Lanka`s military has inked several significant defence agreements with China, including those for the supply of modern radar and large quantities of ammunition, press reports said. The deals with Beijing come amid public statements from India expressing discontent with Colombo`s military ties to China and Pakistan. An order for Chinese radars is being routed through a company owned by Sri Lanka`s defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapakse, reports also said. Meanwhile, India could provide training, spares and servicing support for Sri Lanka`s soon to be acquired Mig 29 jets.
Britain`s Jane`s Defence Weekly reported recently that Sri Lanka had signed a classified $37.6 million deal with China`s Poly Technologies in April to supply its defence forces with ammunition and ordnance for the army and navy.
Another company, China National Electronics Import Export Corp is to provide Sri Lanka a JY 11 3D radar for $5 million over the next few weeks once the site for its location near Colombo is ready, IANS reported quoting Jane`s.
Reports of the purchases come as India`s National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan publicly insisted that Sri Lanka should not approach Pakistan or China for weapons.
``It is high time that Sri Lanka understood that India is the big power in the region and ought to refrain from going to Pakistan or China for weapons, as we are prepared to accommodate them within the framework of our foreign policy,`` Narayanan was quoted by Indian reports as saying last Thursday after a 45-minute meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.
Gotabaya Rajapakse, Sri Lanka`s hardline defence secretary concluded the new contract for the Chinese radars, IANS reported.
The order is being routed through Lanka Logistics and Technologies Co Ltd that Gotabaya Rajapakse also heads, the report also said.
Colombo has declined to renew its long standing agreement with China`s North Industries Corporation (Norinco) for defence equipment, opting instead for Poly Technologies, founded as a rival in 1984 by Beijing`s military establishment.
IANS says there is speculation that the change from Norinco, which has maintained a bonded warehouse in the southern port city of Galle since 1993, was prompted by the debt of $200 million Sri Lanka owes the company.
The largest single order with Poly Technologies is for 120 mm mortar shells for the army, of which 70,000 rounds are priced at $10.4 million.
Other imports include 68,000 152 mm artillery shells ($20 million) and 50,000 81 mm high-explosive mortar bombs ( $3.7 million).
The Sri Lankan navy`s requirement, valued at$ 2.7 million, includes a range of ammunition including 100,000 14.5 mm cartridges, 2,000 RPG-7 rockets and 500 81 mm airburst mortar shells.
There are also 50 Type 82 14.5 mm twin-barrel naval guns, 200 Type 85 12.7 mm heavy machine guns, 200 Type 80 7.62 mm multipurpose machine guns, 1,000 Type 56-2 7.62 mm submachine guns and 1,000 Type 56 7.62 mm submachine guns, Jane`s reported.
Meanwhile, Jane`s is quoted as reporting that Sri Lanka`s director of Aeronautical Engineering, Air Vice Marshal Prashantha de Silva, is scheduled to visit Moscow to discuss the acquisition acquiring an unspecified number of MiG 29 fighters to boost Colombo`s power.
IANS quoted Indian defence sources as saying New Delhi, which also operates 60 odd MiG 29s, could play an `important` role in Sri Lanka`s proposed purchase of similar fighters by agreeing to provide training, spares, servicing and other logistic back-up.