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PAF No.14 'Tail choppers' Squadron re-equipped with JF-17 Thunder jets

Updated February 16, 2017
JF-17 Thunder aircraft taxiing out at Al Makhtoum Airport to practice aerobatics at Dubai Air Show-2013.— Online/File
JF-17 Thunder aircraft taxiing out at Al Makhtoum Airport to practice aerobatics at Dubai Air Show-2013.— Online/File

A ceremony held at Kamra Airbase on Thursday saw 16 new JF-17 Thunder fighter jets inducted to the No 14 Squadron of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Radio Pakistan reported.

No.14 Squadron is the oldest squadron of the PAF and performs the the role of air superiority.

Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif attended the ceremony as the chief guest while Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman was also present.

The defence minister inspected the guard of honour followed by an impressive fly-past.

Khawaja Asif observes guard of honour.— DawnNews

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

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

PAF already has over 70 JF-17 Thunder jets in its fleet.

JF-17's operational history

The JF-17 Thunder, a single-engine multi-role fighter jet, and was jointly developed by China and Pakistan. Development on the aircraft started in 1999, and the 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 upgraded 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 ordinance. 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 ordinance on seven external hardpoints, which is an adequate amount of ordinance 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 form the backbone of the PAF. It was reported that between 250 and 300 aircraft will 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.