ISLAMABAD Pakistan on Monday formally joined the international community of fighter aircraft manufacturers as JF- 17 Thunder, the first ever multi-role state of the art fighter jet, rolled out of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra and was included to the fleet of Pakistan Air Force.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani was the chief guest at the ceremony that marked a milestone in the Sino-Pak joint venture in air defense system.
Senate Chairman Farooq H. Naik, Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira, Defense Minister Ch Ahmed Mukhtar, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Luo Zhaohui, Pakistan's ambassador to China Masood Khan and three services chiefs attended the ceremony.
The sophisticated JF-17 Thunder, painted green in the color scheme of national flag appeared with grandeur as the Prime Minister unveiled the fighter jet before the audience.
Manufactured with the cooperation of China, the event has been termed as a beginning of new era of Pak-China friendship.
Addressing a select gathering of local and foreign dignitaries and PAF officials, the Prime Minister said the goals of progress and prosperity could not be achieved without achieving self-reliance in defense production.
He termed the manufacturing of JF-17 Thunder aircraft as the 'achievement of an important milestone' in the government's ongoing efforts to attain self-reliance.
The Prime Minister assured full cooperation, support and patronage to the PAF in its projects and congratulated the entire nation, adding that the national project would be remembered as a landmark in the country's history.
Referring to present challenges, the Prime Minister said the fast changing technology-intensive battle arena required intense involvement of air power which had emerged as a major player in conflict scenarios.
He said the role of the air force also becomes vital in tackling the threat posed by the forces of extremism and militancy.
Under these circumstances, he said, a modern air force was a national requirement adding the government was making sincere efforts for a strong and well equipped Pakistan Air Force.
In the recent drive against militants, the PAF was endeavoring side by side with the Pak Army to root out terrorism from the country, he added.
The Prime Minister said that the PAF has been able to achieve both, the demands of meeting its operational requirements by co-developing a fighter aircraft and developing Pakistan's Aviation Industry.
He said following the example of Kamra, there should be more such centers of excellence in other fields to attract youth towards a more constructive approach to life.
He appreciated that the JF-17 programme had provided employment to about 5,000 people.
Referring to long and trust worthy relations between Pakistan and China, the Prime Minister thanked the Chinese for providing PAF the required technical assistance for the programme.
He also mentioned the Chinese cooperation in many other projects in the country and said it was a pride for the nation.
He especially highlighted the projects including Gwadar Deep Sea Port, Korakoram Highway, Heavy Mechanical Complex, Heavy Electrical Complex and Saindak Copper Project where China is helping the country.
Chief of the Air Staff Rao Qamar Suleman highlighted the efforts of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra in establishing itself as a hub of the aviation industry.
He lauded the support of Chinese government and Aviation Industries of China without which, he said the project would not have succeeded.
He said that 40 JF-17 Thunder aircraft would be produced by PAC Kamra within the next three years and would be inducted into the PAF replacing the existing aircrafts.—APP