Air Force has not ruled out acquiring JF17 from Pakistan

The Air Force says nothing has been ruled out and all options are still being looked into and JF-17 still remains an option.Air Force spokesman, Group Captain Chandima Alwis told The Sunday Leader that Sri Lanka is in need of new jets to be on par with the changing world. Sharif’s visit to Colombo followed a mid-November visit to Pakistan by Sri Lanka Air Force commander Air Marshal Gagan Bulathsinhala during which the JF-17 was showcased by the Pakistanis. Immediately after the visit AM Bulathsinhala was invited to send an evaluation team of technicians and pilots to PAC’s Kamra facilities near Islamabad, where the JF-17 is produced.At present the Air Force, according to the Janes Defence Weekly, rely on the Israel Aircraft Industries Kfir, which served as the workhorse of the Air Force ground attack operations during the war.Currently the JF-17 is flown only by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), with the first squadron of Block 1 aircraft becoming operational in 2010. In late December 2015, PAC rolled out the 16th of a planned total of 50 Block 2 aircraft to complete the PAF’s fourth JF-17 squadron in service. The Sri Lanka Air Force says it has not ruled out acquiring JF-17 Thunder Aircraft from Pakistan and that no final decision has been made on the matter.A much publicized matter when Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was visiting Sri Lanka recently was that Sri Lanka was to sign a deal to purchase JF-17 Thunder Aircraft from Pakistan. However no such agreement was signed and the Indian media later reported that the deal was suspended owing to pressure from India. He said that a final decision had never been taken on the JF-17 Thunder Aircraft even at the time Nawaz Sharif was in Sri Lanka.“We have a requirement to improve our fleet and we are studying various options. The Air Force had never informed the Ministry of Defence that we would like to go for the JF-17 so there was never a final decision to purchase the jets when the Pakistan Prime Minister was in Sri Lanka,” he said.However the highly respected defence magazine ‘Janes Defence Weekly’ had reported that following the first export deal for its JF-17 multirole fighter to Myanmar, Pakistan was expected to be pushing hard for a follow-up agreement with Sri Lanka that would mark an important step in further extending its defence co-operation footprint in the Indian Ocean region. The report said that efforts to secure an agreement in principle for the sale of the JF-17 Thunder was expected to be high on the agenda during the visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Sri Lanka. Phasing out its older Dassault Mirage III/5s and Chinese F-7Ps fighters, the PAF reportedly plans to induct at least 250 JF-17s. By contrast, China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) does not fly the JF-17.Captain Chandima Alwis said that Sri Lanka needs to secure its airspace and so needs to have jets with advanced technology even if there is no war.He said that the jets in the Air Force fleet are maintained and flown in order to ensure they are in good condition and ready to be thrown into operation if the need arises.Among the countries the Sri Lanka Air Force is looking to acquire new jets is India, the Air Force spokesman added.The Janes Defence Weekly reported that diplomatic and political pressure by India is believed to have stalled the Sri Lankan Air Force plans to procure the JF-17 Thunder fighters from Pakistan. (Colombo Gazette) JF-17 Thunder is a third-generation fighter co-produced by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC). read more

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On World Day UN agencies urge countering threats to cultural diversity

“Across the world, violent extremists have targeted cultural minorities and destroyed our shared heritage, to weaken the essential links between people and their history,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Marking the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, Ms. Bokova called for a new humanism for the 21st century, to renew the fundamental aspirations to justice, mutual understanding and dignity that guide all women and men. She quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying: ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.’ By embracing cultural diversity, the international community can more easily achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which draw upon “the strength and creative potential of humanity’s diversity of cultures.” Similarly, the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), William Lacy Swing, urged Governments and their citizens to embrace migration, despite its challenges, and help to develop common understandings, values and perspectives.“It is sometimes asked whether the West’s multiculturalism, its diversity, has reached its limits? Can a society only cope with so much diversity? The answer is no. There has never been a city or a country brought down by too much ‘diversity,’” said Mr. Swing. IOM has compiled stories from some of the migrants with whom it has worked, highlighting their lives and journey, and how they are making their families and their new community better. The ‘I am a migrant’collection is available online. In today’s statement, Mr. Swing noted that all societies are so-called multi-ethnic because no single State lives with a single culture: “Even States averse to permitting entry to more ‘foreigners’ must acknowledge the multiple ‘cultures’ within their own borders. All countries have them: religious, ethnic, social, societal, sexual, occupational, educational, dietary specificities.” The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 2002 and celebrated annually on 21 May, is meant to be an opportunity for mobilization on the part of governments, policy makers, civil society organizations, communities and cultural professionals to promote culture in its diversity and in all its forms. read more

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