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Home > Dubai Airshow
JF-17 Thunder set to convert interest into mature orders

Muzaffar Rizvi / 21 November 2013

Multi-role fighter attracts Mideast, Africa, South America buyers

Joint Fighter-17 combat aircraft, popularly known as JF-17 Thunder, received an overwhelming response from official delegates and trade visitors at the Dubai Airshow.

The new generation multi-role aircraft, which is co-developed by Pakistan and China, attracted potential buyers from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America.

“We are engaged in talks with more than 10 countries in three different continents and are confident of securing aircraft orders in coming days,” Air Commodore Khalid Mahmood told Khaleej Times at the airshow on Wednesday.

The light combat fighter jet, which made its Middle East debut at the Dubai Airshow in 2011, is put on static and aerial display at the airshow and stand prominent in its own class of fighters. It is considered the best choice for most countries to replace second-generation fighters including Mig-21/F-7, F-5 (US) and Mirage-III/V.

Air Commodore Mahmood said Middle East, Asia and Africa are big potential market for JF-17 Thunder and Mushshak — a light, robust, trainer and utility aircraft — also participating at the airshow.

“The aircraft received a good response since it made the Middle East debut at the previous Dubai Airshow. Many countries from the region, Africa and South America have shown interest in JF-17 and we are confident of turning this interest into matured deals soon,” he said without elaborate.

The aircraft, which is being manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), is an all weather, multi-role, light combat aircraft that has the potential to be the main stay and work horse of any Air Force. The design of JF-17 Thunder is based on modern concepts of aerodynamics.

“Securing an order for new aircraft is not an easy task. We are in serious discussion with many nations, which earlier showed basic interest in the aircraft and now they are expected to place firm orders soon,” he said.

Pakistan Air Force has inducted JF-17 Thunder in its fleet as part of its multi-phase plan to replace 250-275 fighters in coming few years. The air force has already raised two squadrons equipped with the JF-17 Thunder combat jet and plans to add third squadron by early next year.

“The block one production for JF-17 has already been completed and we will start producing block two jets by next month. About 50 jets were included in block one and same number of JF-17 aircraft will be inducted during next three years time,” said Air Commodore Mahmood, who is also deputy project manager of JF-17 programme.

“The aircraft to be manufactured in block two will have more advanced features including air-to-air fuelling facility and latest integrated avionics systems,” he said.

To a question, he said the PAC has production capacity to manufacture 25 aircraft annually, but currently it is manufacturing about 16 aircraft annually.

“JF-17 Thunder production capacities at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex can be increased to fulfil the future export orders,” he said.

The JF-17 programme was started by Pakistan and China in 1998 and the detailed design was finalised in September 2001.

The serial joint production of the aircraft started in Pakistan in 2009 after extensive flight tests and the limited production of eight planes in 2007.


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