Next month a ceremony will be held in Pakistan to mark the delivery of the 50th JF-17 multirole fighter from the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) factory at Kamra. The handover marks the completion of production of the first batch of aircraft for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Designed in China by Chengdu as the FC-1, the JF-17 Thunder is being jointly developed and marketed by the Chinese and PAC.
Pakistan Air Force
In the last few days Selex Galileo has flight-tested its Falco UAV for the first time with the company’s Gabbiano T20N radar installed. Typically the Falco carries the Selex Galileo PicoSAR multi-mode AESA radar in the nose, but the Gabbiano provides an option giving enhanced maritime capability.
Selex Galileo has added new modes to the long-selling Grifo fire control radar and has also designed a pod-mounted version. Angelo Aprile, the company’s head of capability in Italy, told the Military Flight Training conference in London organized by Defence IQ that more than 450 “advanced but affordable” Grifo systems have been sold worldwide. Applications include the F-5E/F, Mirage III, L-159, F-7 (Chinese-built MiG-21bis) and Sikorsky HH-60 helicopter.
The Pakistan Air Force received the last of 18 new F-16C/D Block 52 fighters from Lockheed Martin in early February. Accompanying the aircraft on its delivery flight were two PAF F-16A Block 15s that have undergone the mid-life update process in the U.S. A few days later, the PAF also accepted the first of its F-16s to undergo an avionics and structure upgrade in Turkey.
The JF-17 Thunder fighter, co-developed by China’s Avic and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), is to receive improvements that will start being produced with the Block-2 version from next year.
According to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) it has flown more than 5,500 strike sorties over the country’s troubled tribal regions since May 2008. In a rare glimpse into Pakistan’s attempt to counter domestic terrorism from the air, the commander of the PAF described some lessons learned to the Air Chiefs Conference here in Dubai on Saturday.
During a visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani to Beijing in late May, it was reported that China is to provide 50 Chengdu JF-17 Thunder multirole fighters to Pakistan, and that China will pay for the aircraft. The report comes at a time when Pakistan’s relations with the U.S.–its other principal warplane supplier–have soured over the May 2 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
In the same week that the Chengdu JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft made its international debut at the Farnborough airshow, the product of this co-development between China and Pakistan was offered to Indonesia. The Pakistan Defence Minister signed a defense cooperation agreement with his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta.
Making its international debut here is this Chengdu/PAC JF-17 Thunder, a joint Chinese/Pakistani multi-role fighter project. Known in China as the FC-1 Xiaolong, the Thunder is now in series assembly at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex’s Kamra plant. The aircraft is powered by a Russian Klimov RD-93 engine and has a Chinese NRIET KLJ-7 radar.
The Pakistan air force is due to begin receiving new-build F-16s from Lockheed Martin beginning in 2009. The 18 aircraft on order–plus a major upgrade package for the nation’s existing aircraft and further options–will dramatically enhance the service’s capabilities and will bring to a close a controversial 20-year procurement saga.
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