China-Pak Fighter Plane Venture
- JF-17 plane's maiden flight next week: Pakistan-China joint venture
By Our Staff Reporter
RAWALPINDI, Aug 30: The first prototype of JF-17 Thunder aircraft,
jointly manufactured by China and Pakistan, would take off on its
maiden flight early next week.
The flight would put Pakistan in the select band of countries having
the capability of producing a fighter aircraft.
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat was briefed on
the aircraft project at Air Headquarters, Chaklala, on Saturday.
Speaking on the occasion, Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat said the
maiden flight of the aircraft was scheduled to take place in China on
Sept 2 or 3, depending on weather.
The JF-17 Thunder project has been completed in a record period of
four years. The project initially suffered a setback due to
imposition of sanctions in 1999, which hindered acquisition of
avionics and weaponry for the aircraft. The avionics had to be
delinked from airframe development in 2001.
The aircraft, formerly known as Super-7, has already done a
successful test flight on August 25.
The maiden flight would be followed by a validation process, spanning
over around two to two-and-a-half years. The serial production is
expected to start by 2006.
The annual production of the aircraft would be adjusted to cater for
the timely replacement of aircraft retiring from PAF inventory.
The jet which is being made with 50/50 partnership with China is
expected to cost the PAF $15 million after the acquisition of
avionics, the air chief said.
The JF-17 Thunder, whose performance is matched only by F-16s in the
Pakistan Air Force's current inventory, would be replacing the aging
fleet of Mirage, F-7s and A-5s.
The aircraft is being considered as a match for the Indian Light
Combat Aircraft (LCA), which is expected to form the backbone of the
Indian Air Force in future. There are, however, some features like
advanced and futuristic avionics and cost effectiveness that give the
JF-17 an edge over the LCA.
The JF-17 is a light weight, all weather, multi-role aircraft having
a capability to fly at a speed of Mach 1.6 and a high thrust to
weight ratio. The aircraft has the ability to engage targets at all
speeds and altitudes within the conventional flying envelope.
In the surface attack and interdiction role, the aircraft can strike
at long distances.
The combat jet has been installed with an advanced flight control
system, which is a mix of conventional and fly-by-wire controls,
making it highly agile and manoeuvrable.
The aircraft would be capable of carrying short-range, beyond visual
range, anti-ship as well as Continued on Page 3anti-radiation
missiles. Additionally, the carriage of high and low drag bombs,
laser guided bombs, run away penetration bombs and cluster bombs
would be catered for. However, the air chief parried a question
regarding the aircraft's ability to carry nukes.
Replying to a question, Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat said the JF-
17s would meet the bulk requirement of the PAF and efforts would
continue for induction of fourth generation planes, to give a cutting
edge to the air defence. He said markets for these planes were being
Answering a question, he said the engine of the aircraft was of
Russian origin which is being made in China under licence.
He said in the hi-tech sector purchase of modern jets like Mirage
2000-5, SU-30, and a Swedish aircraft were some of the options being
considered, but the final decision depended on their price tag and
The air chief said the avionics package for JF-17 which was medium-
tech aircraft would be ready by the time the serial production began.
He said the sanctions snag might not come in the way of purchase of
avionics as there were a couple of good options available with the
Regarding negotiations with the United States over F-16s, he said,
they had always remained on the agenda, but the US government
appeared to be reluctant over the issue as it did not want to
create "ripples" in the subcontinent.
He said the US government was unlikely to provide any defence
equipment either to Pakistan or India that would alter the strategic
balance in the region.
The air chief said Belgium was ready to sell some of its F-16s to
Pakistan, but the finalization of the deal was subject to the US
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