The visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Sri Lanka between 4 and 6 January may fail to swing a deal on the sale of Pakistan-made and Chinese-designed JF-17 fighter aircraft, the New Indian Express reported.
Reacting to a report by Anthony Davies in IHS Jane’s 360, dated 29 December, saying that Sharif will press for its purchase, a Lankan defense expert has told Express that two factors will prevent Colombo from going in for it: First, there is India’s opposition. And second, there is the cost factor, with the fighters going at USD 35 million apiece.
The Pakistanis had latched on to the Sri Lankan Air Force’s interest in the AF-17 to replace its aging Kfirs and MIG 27.
Official Indian sources here denied any knowledge of Lanka’s intentions or India’s counter offer to provide its Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’. But the Lankan media has been talking about these for some time, based on leaks from the SLAF top brass.