UPDATED 6 January | Sri Lanka is said to have signed up for at least eight Pakistani-made JF-17 Thunder fighter jets. A memorandum of understanding was signed on Tuesday 5 January during a visit to Sri Lanka by Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif , confirming earlier rumours about an imminent deal.
Update | The first export customer for the JF-17 Thunder now appears to be Nigeria and not Myanmar, as reported earlier. Nigeria expects delivery of three Thunders this year, records in the country show.
The Thunders wil almost surely replace obsolete MiG-23 and MiG-27 fighter jets. Next to those, the Sri Lanka Air Force currently also operates Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir and Chinese made Shenyang F-7 fighter jets.
Neighbouring India is said to oppose the deal between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. India had hopes to sell its indigenous Tejas jet to Sri Lanka and incidentally on Tuesday 5 January announced that aircraft’s international airshow debut at the Bahrain Air Show later this month.
The apparent deal in Sri Lanka marks the second export success for the JF-17 Thunder. Last June, another foreign customer was announced at the Paris Air Show. On 6 January 2016, Nigeria revealed itself as that foreign costumer.
The JF-17 Thunder is the result of a joint program by Pakistan and China. In the latter, the same aircraft is designated Chengdu FC-1. Pakistan recently celebrated a milestone in the program.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A JF-17 Thunder takes to the sky. (Image © Elmer van Hest)