China will sell 110 JF-17s Thunder fighter jets to Pakistan, the Economic Times reported.
The Economic Times cites Radio Pakistan as a source, which announced that Beijing will deliver the first patch of 50 planes over the next three years. Additionally, Chinese officials told local Chinese media that the total number of fighter aircraft delivered will be 110, although there is no set delivery schedule for the remaining 6o planes.
The apparent reason for the new delivery from China is that Pakistan’s military aircraft industry cannot keep up with its air force’s demand for new planes amid an intensifying campaign against Taliban insurgents in the country.
IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly summarizes the characteristics of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft:
Developed jointly by China (where it is designated the FC-1) and Pakistan, the JF-17 Thunder made its maiden flight in 2004. Powered by a single Russian-designed but Chinese-built Klimov RD-93 (RD-33 derivative) turbofan, it has a top speed of Mach 1.6 (at altitude); a radius-of-operation of 648 n miles (1,200 km) (…)
It has seven underwing/fuselage hardpoints, and is equipped with an internal GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon. Weapon options include up to four PL-5, -7, -8 or -9 short-range air-to-air missiles (AAMs) or four PL-12/SD-10B medium-range AAMs; two C-802A anti-ship missiles; two anti-radiation missiles; five 500 kg bombs; twin launchers for up to eight 250 kg, MK-20, GBU-12 or anti-runway bombs; single 1,000 kg bomb or GBU-10; or up to three mission pods.
The plane is manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) west of Islamabad, which has the capacity to produce 25 aircraft per year, according to the head of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Air Marshal Javaid Ahmad. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) already received 50 Block I planes.
A more advanced version (with a new air-to-air refuelling probe, enhanced oxygen system and improved electronic countermeasures system) will also soon enter service, stated the Air Marshall in December 2014, adding that “We will hand over 16 Block-II JF-17s to the PAF every year.” IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly reported that the first Block II JF-17 made its maiden flight on 9 February.
In December 2014, Russia and Pakistan also announced a defense cooperation agreement, which stipulated that Islamabad would buy the JF-17 engine – the Russian Klimov RD-93 – directly from Moscow, instead of acquiring the hardware vicariously via China. Pakistan and China are also planning to export the plane (see: “Pakistan and China May Finally Have a JF-17 Buyer”), but the recent announcement calls into question the true manufacturing capacity of Pakistan’s military aircraft industry.