Pakistan can rely on four fully equipped JF-17 Thunder squadrons following the handover of the 16th Block II JF-17 to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), sources in Pakistand said on Tuesday 29 december. The aircraft was rolled out at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman.
The Pakistan Air Force has been flying the JF-17 Thunder since 2007. The fighter jet is a joint undertaking by Pakistan and China, with PAC holding the exclusive rights of 58 percent of airframe co-production work.
The first locally produced aircraft was handed over to the PAF in November 2009. Since then, PAC has assembled 66 Thunders, with 50 of those being of the less-advanced Block-I variant. Production of the newer Block-II variant started in 2014. It offers more advanced weapons systems and avionics.
A Thunder two seater variant is still under development. Meanwhile, Malaysia was reported to be interested in aqcuiring the type, but those rumours were denied in Kuala Lumpur. More recently, Pakistan is targeting an order from Sri Lanka.
During the Partis Air Show in June, the first export order for the JF-17 Thunder was announced. The customer was never mentioned but on 6 January 2016, Nigeria revealed it is expecting three JF-17s to be delivered in 2016.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest