China selling MA60s to Myanmar and Sri Lanka

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The China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) has ordered nine MA60 transports on behalf of two Asian customers, according to a Xian Aircraft official.

Sri Lanka will be buying six of the turboprop-powered aircraft from CATIC, while the remaining three will go to Myanmar, says the official. The countries are acquiring the aircraft with the help of a Chinese government preferred loan scheme, the source adds.

Sri Lanka is to receive two of its MA60s this year, with the remainder to be delivered in 2011, says the Xian official, with Myanmar's three to be handed over in September. Both countries want the aircraft in a 56-seat configuration, the official adds.

Sri Lanka's ports and aviation ministry confirms that the country is in negotiations to buy six MA60s for the air force. Four of the MA60s will be dedicated for use by the service, but the other two may end up at state-owned carrier Mihin Lanka, it adds.

The Sri Lankan air force currently relies on Antonov An-32s, Lockheed Martin C-130Ks and Chinese-built Harbin Y12s for its transport activities.

Myanmar, meanwhile, relies on ageing Fokker F27s, and is unable to source military equipment from the West because of trade sanctions.

Both nations are close political allies of China, which has been developing relations with them partly to act as a bulwark against its political rival India. Chinese firms are helping to finance and build airports, roads and other infrastructure in Sri Lanka, and Beijing often makes soft loans to such countries.

For more on the military fleets of Myanmar and Sri Lanka, download Flight's 2009 World Air Forces directory for free