Defence analysts, both local and international assume that the LTTE only have a few modified Zlin-143s at their disposal. This assumption is based on the fact that only the Zlins have been observed to have carried out successful bombing runs in the south. However, this blog owner can confirm that the Zlin is only one of the aircraft types out of the many that the LTTE have in their TAF fleet.
The latest addition to the TAF fleet is the Pilatus PC-7. The Pilatus PC-7 is the trainer version of the military version Pilatus PC-7 MK II in use by the South African air force for border patrols, ground-to-air attacks, intercepting low / slow flying aircrafts (such as attack helicopters), and counter insurgency missions. The KP branch could not get hold of the MK II due to import / export restrictions and non availability in the open market. However, the trainer versions are widely available in the open market. The Pilatus range is designed, developed and manufactured in Switzerland.
So far, the PC-7 has not flown combat missions. The main problem faced by the TAF engineers in adapting the PC-7 for combat was the fact that the locally developed bomb rack could not be fixed on to the PC-7 without seriously compromising the external structure. The bomb rack could not be mounted on the aircraft because the MLG (retractable wheel) unit or the VHF antennae gets in the way.
However, the foreign trained TAF engineers were always of the opinion that the PC-7 can be adapted to carry weapons on wing mounted pylons, and for months had been working on overcoming technical issues of arming the aircraft. This blog owner can now reveal that the TAF engineers headed by Charles Anthony managed to fix the bomb rack without compromising the external structure of the aircraft. We will not disclose how this was done due to the need to maintain operational secrecy. The Pilatus is expected to be in action soon.
The Pilatus can also be adapted for VIP transport.