By Abuzar Ilyas
First few images of JF-17/FC-1 multirole combat aircraft manufactured for Myanmar Air Force have been surfaced in Chinese media which is considered as a major breakthrough in the Thunder project so far. This is the first export order which will be delivered very soon. Total 16 units will be delivered according to this deal as reported by defence journals.
Myanmar will be the first country to get these modern 4th generation fighters after Pakistan. Nigeria is another country which will receive Thunders in coming years as per confirmed news. Nigerian budget documents also show the funds they have allocated for the procurement of JF-17 Thunders from Pakistan.
There are many other secret buyers of this machine which are working to materialize their deals on favourable prices. Azerbaijan is in talks with Pakistani/Chinese officials for securing a deal of 20 JF-17s for Azeri Air Force according to some Chinese sources.
More than 80 JF-17s have been commissioned in PAF since its induction in No. 26 Squadron in 2010. Their service record is remarkably excellent as far as the matter of attritional losses and mechanical failures is concerned.
Myanmar Air Force is currently operating with relatively advanced MIG-29s and older F-6s, F-7s and A-5 aircrafts which need replacement. These sixteen JF-17s will be used to replace the aging fleet of Myanmar Air Force.
Pakistan has successfully inducted the Thunders in 4 combat squadrons which is itself a proof of its success and quality. Moreover the induction of this machine in Pakistan’s elite Combat Commanders Schools is a milestone and now whole world can trust it after watching it in the hands of world’s best trained fighter pilots.
PAC and CAC are optimistic for getting more export orders of JF-17 after the introduction of its B model which carries two seats. This JF-17B version will help the manufacturers to get more orders from the air forces carrying older 3rd generation jets in their inventories.