Israeli Firm Inks $50 Million Deal to Upgrade Sri Lankan Israeli-made Fighter Jets

Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison
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Kfir fighter jets.
Kfir fighter jets.Credit: Israel Aerospace Industries
Yoram Gabison
Yoram Gabison

State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries signed a $50 million deal with Sri Lanka's Defense Ministry to upgrade the country's Israeli-made Kfir fighter jets.

According to the recently signed deal, the IAI will not only replace the aircraft's basic electronic and computer systems with more advanced ones, but will also refurbish and return the planes to service. Once the upgrade is carried out, the planes will attain capabilities of 4.5-generation fighter aircraft.

The Sri Lankan Air Force has been using Kfir fighter jets since the 1990s. According to the IAI, the use of Kfir jets – and its ability to carry tons of missiles and weaponry – tipped the scales in favor of the Sri Lankan government during the country's 28-year-long civil war.

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The enhancement process, which will be carried out alongside Sri Lanka’s Air Force personnel and in their local facilities, will also include a transfer of the know-how for the refurbishment.

In the future, and thanks to the new equipment, Sri Lanka may integrate advanced radar, sensors and communication systems into the fighter jets, as well as new flight helmets.

Sri Lanka's decision to upgrade its Kfir jets was based, in part, on the successful completion of the same process in the Colombian Air Force. In 2012 and 2018, Colombia's Kfir fleet displayed exceptional capabilities during a U.S. military drill.

IAI has many years of experience upgrading military and commercial aircraft, and it currently oversees the upgrading of planes, including executive jets, avionics, structural assemblies, MRO, and conversion of passenger airplanes into freighter configuration.

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