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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Armor Called Defective

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- The Sri Lankan army has found a basic problem with a consignment of Russian armored vehicles acquired under a now suspended $73 million arms deal. They just will not go.

An army engineers' report found that BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles had defective engines and steering systems, despite Russian assurances that all vehicles would be fully overhauled and defects repaired.

The controversial deal was suspended by the new People's Alliance government shortly after it won power this month. It cancelled further payments and ordered a probe because there had been no parliamentary or Finance Ministry approval of the purchase.

Eight of the secondhand BMP-2s were airlifted to Sri Lanka from Russia two weeks ago for training, while a second batch of eight arrived last week and were still at Colombo's airport, army officials said.

Russia was to have supplied 200 armored vehicles, gunboats, helicopters and transport aircraft, which the Sri Lankan government wanted for a major offensive against Tamil guerrillas fighting for independence in the north and east.

The previous government had already paid 10 percent of the cost of the package by organizing a foreign loan.