Thursday, 16 February 2017

Pakistan Air Force inducts 16 JF-17 Thunder aircraft

Upgraded JF-17 Thunder jets inducted into PAF fleet


KAMRA: The 14-Squadron of the Pakistan Air Force has been boosted with the addition of new JF-17 Thunder fighter jets which have been manufactured with coordination from China.

A prestigious ceremony was held at Kamara where Defence Minister Khawaja Asif was the chief guest with Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman also present. The defence minister inspected the guard of honour which was followed by an impressive fly-past.

The new fighter jets were also displayed at the ceremony and were inspected by the minister.

A total of 16 JF-17 Thunder aircraft have been manufactured, jointly by China and Pakistan in the past year, according to sources.

The JF-17 Thunder is a single-engine multi-role fighter jet. Development on the aircraft started in 1999 and its maiden flight was conducted in 2003.

The initial Block 1 JF-17s were received in 2007, with production of the upgraded Block 2 JF-17s started in 2013. The new models have upgraded avionics, air-to-air refuelling capability, data link, enhanced electronic warfare capability and enhanced load carrying ability.

The JF-17 can be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground ordnance. The aircraft mounts both short-range infra-red air to air missiles along with longer ranged radar-guided BVR missiles, an essential capability for a frontline interceptor.

The aircraft can carry 8,000lbs of ordnance on seven external hard points, which is an adequate amount of weaponry for any mission profile. The JF-17 enhances the much needed capability of the air force in beyond visual range (BVR) engagements.

The JF-17 is a capable platform and is on its way to forming the backbone of the air force. It was reported that between 250 and 300 of the aircrafts would be inducted into the air force in order to phase out the ageing fleet of some other aircraft models that are still in operation.

For the Pakistan Air Force, the JF-17 fills the gap that had arisen due to an ageing inventory, which was further impacted by sanctions placed on the country following the nuclear tests in 1998.

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