Stiff opposition from India has forced Sri Lanka to drop plans, at least for now, to buy JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft from Pakistan, the New Indian Express reported.
The Sunday Express has learnt that New Delhi shot off a diplomatic missive a few weeks ago to Colombo on why it should not buy the JF-17 Thunder, including a negative technical assessment of the aircraft. It was also pointed out that the country’s defence requirements did not need fighters.
While questions were raised in Sri Lanka too about the reported $400-million deal, India’s forceful opposition, conveyed through a non-paper, was one of the likely reasons that made Sri Lanka drop the plan for now.
The Pakistani media were reporting that the deal for JF-17s would be signed during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three-day visit to Colombo which ended Wednesday.
Despite its own financial crunch, Pakistan was also said to be ready to extend a line of credit to Sri Lanka for the aircraft.
On Tuesday, Sharif and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the Defence Minister, signed agreements under eight heads in Colombo, but the sale of aircraft was not one of them.