Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence has signed a $50m agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to upgrade a fleet Kfir multirole combat aircraft.

According to a local publication the Daily Financial Times, the contract will involve modernising five Kfir fighter jets of Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) No 10 Squadron.

As agreed, IAI will upgrade the jets’ basic avionics with the advanced 4+ generation fighter aircraft avionics to enable future integration of advanced radar, sensors, communication systems and new helmets.

The programme will also include the transfer of knowledge and necessary skills to SLAF personnel.

Several local facilities will be associated with the project.

The contract comes after the completion of the Columbian Air Force’s Kfir fleet upgrade programme.

Kfir is an all-weather, multi-role supersonic (Mach 2) combat aircraft. After the Israel Air Force retired its Kfir fleet, IAI undertook multiple upgrade projects to improve its operational performance.

IAI executive vice-president and IAI’s Aviation Group general manager Yossi Melamed said: “I am proud that IAI’s Kfir has been chosen by customers around the world, including in the US and as the Columbian Air Force’s primary fighter jet.

“I am grateful to Sri Lanka’s Air Force for choosing to renew their Kfir selection and continue using the Kfir as their Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. I believe this deal is an early step in preparing for future upgrades to the advanced model KNG (Kfir New Generation).”

IAI’s Aviation Group has several years of experience in upgrading military and commercial aircraft. Its customers include the Israel Air Force, US Air Force, SLAF, Colombia Air Force, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Recently, IAI’s BlueBird Aero Systems completed an order of 100 WanderB vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to an undisclosed European customer.