Leonardo-Finmeccanica announced on Tuesday 24 May that Pakistan has signed a contract for an undisclosed number of AgustaWestland AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopters. They will be used as search and rescue platforms.
The contract was signed in Islamabad and is part of a Pakistani fleet renewal program spread over several batches including a logistic support and training package. The AW139s are expected in 2017.
According to Leonardo-Finmeccanica, the signing further expands the already successful presence of the AW139 helicopter in-country. A total of 11 AW139s are already in service in Pakistan, with five aircraft operated for government relief and transportation duties.
Jordan is offering fifteen used but serviceable F-16A/B Midlife Update (MLU) models in a move that seems strange in the light of the pending arrival of… fifteen very similar F-16 MLU models previously operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) aircraft are offered on the air force’s website.
The Jordanian offer comes complete with a list of the actual aircraft for sale. They are all jets that orginally flew with the US Air Force in the eighties an nineties and were delivered to Jordan under the Peace Falcon II contract from 2003 onwards. Prior to 2009, all were updated to MLU standard in Turkey.
Airframe hours range from 4,600 to 6,000 hours and some phase inspections were completed as late as December 2015 and even January 2016. The jets underwent the Falcon UP and Falcon STAR structural upgrades as well, extending projected service lifes to about 8,000 hours.
Jordan has a habit of purchasing used F-16s while at the same time selling aircraft of the same type. Pakistan received a batch of former RJAF F-16s, the first of which arrived in Pakistan in April 2014. In turn, disused Belgian and Dutch F-16s found their ways to Jordan before, some of which were used for Jordan’s contribution in the fight against so-called Islamic State in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
It would be no surprise if Pakistan snatches up Jordan’s latest F-16 offer as well, although Islamabad also eyes a small batch of brand new and more advanced F-16C/D jets from Lockheed Martin.
The current Jordanian F-16 fleet is estimated to be around 64 aircraft-strong. The second batch of used Dutch aircraft should find its way to the Middle Eastern country soon. The aircraft are currently being prepared for transfer in the Netherlands.
The US is allowing eight more Lockheed Martin F-16s to be sold to Pakistan, a statement said on Friday 12 February. The aircraft are identical to advanced F-16 variants purchased by Pakistan earlier.
The sale is worth 699 million USD and includes support, training and spare parts. The approval means that Pakistan is now actually free to actually order the aircraft from Lockheed Martin, giving the defense company another chance to keep F-16 serial production going after over 38 years.
The US decision has led India to protest against to potential sale.
The Indian made Tejas fighter jet is all set for its international airshow debut these days during the Bahrain International Airshow starting Thursday 21 January. The type is engaged in a fierce battle with the Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder, albeit a virtual one thanks to the virtues of social media. Both sides have battling it out for weeks already.
Two Tejas jets arrived at Bahrain’s Sakhir airbase on 14 January and started orientation flights. The Tejas – powered by a GE F404-IN20 turbofan – was designed and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) but even after decades of development and testing fails to meet Indian Air Force expectations. An improved ‘Mark 2’ version – featuring the more powerful F414 engine – will probably never see the light of day.
It’s appearance in Bahrain most likely is the result of Pakistan’s recent success in selling it’s JF-17 Thunder abroad. Nigeria is expecting three to be delivered this year and Myanmar is also a rumoured customer. No JF-17 is scheduled to appear in Bahrain, however. Powering the Thunder is the Russian designed Klimov RD-93 engine.
More recently, a Pakistani campaign to sell JF-17 Thunders to Sri Lanka – that other neighbour to India – infuriated New Delhi. After days of confusing news, Indian media proudly reported New Delhi has prevented the deal from happening and also stated the Tejas was now on offer to Sri Lanka.
It is safe to say Sri Lanka would prefer the JF-17 Thunder, a joint undertaking by Pakistan and China that has resulted in a reasonably advanced, capable and affordable alternative to expensive Western and Russian fighter aircraft. It could very likely sell to other customers as well.
Any foreign sale of Tejas jets however is as unlikely as…. well, India buying the JF-17. The program is too troubled for any foreign nation to be interested in. Displaying the aircraft in Bahrain is a matter of politics and prestige, not economics.
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.