The LTTE's air capabilities have been completely wiped out, the Sri Lankan army claimed on Friday after recovering a stock of accessories and engines of the 'sky Tigers' from the embattled north.
"The recovery puts all theories regarding LTTE's air capabilities to rest, once for all, since the troops and the Sri Lanka Air Force have by now destroyed the entire LTTE air fleet," the army said in a statement.
The rebels' aircraft accessories had been buried near a coconut tree by the rebels, who had wrapped them up neatly in polythene. The troops dug the accessories out with the help of the earth moving equipment, it said.
The troops, commanded by Maj Gen Jagath Dias, unearthed "a stock of an LTTE light aircraft accessories from Pudukudiyirippu east area," the army said while its website carried detailed photographs of the LTTE aircraft accessories.
In the past three years, Air Force fighter craft have shot down three LTTE light planes, the army said. Two of them were destroyed during the February 19 attempt by rebels to carry out a suicide air attack on Colombo.
A media report had last month suggested that the LTTE may still be having a Czech-made Zlin Z 143 light aircraft, but the recovery of engines and accessories has put all these theories to rest. Moreover, the Tigers are hardly left with any space to operate an aircraft.