PERSONNEL of the Pakistan Air Force stand in a row near the 14 dual-seat JF-17B multi-role aircraft rolled out at a ceremony on Wednesday at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra.—AFP
PERSONNEL of the Pakistan Air Force stand in a row near the 14 dual-seat JF-17B multi-role aircraft rolled out at a ceremony on Wednesday at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) formally handed over 14 state-of-the-art indigenously developed fourth generation JF-17 Thunder Block-III — dual carrier fighter jets equipped with a long-range superior radar system and advance firing capability — to Pakistan Air Force (PAF) at a simple ceremony on Wednesday.

Terming the aircraft’s inclusion in the national fleet a ‘significant milestone’ in the country’s history, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan said JF-17 Thunder was proved a battle-tested aircraft during the successful expression of mastery in Operation Swift Retort against Indian Air Force’s violation of territorial sovereignty on Feb 27, 2019.

While addressing the handing over ceremony at the PAC Kamra, the air chief commended completion of the project in time by the Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF) team of the PAC involved in the development of the advance generation of the JF-17B Thunder Block-III jets version.

Air Marshal Anwar proudly said that PAC Kamra upheld its traditions despite the most challenging times of the pandemic. “I would like to commend the entire team and PAC leadership, including PAC chairman and AMF managing director, for their concerted efforts to meet the project deadlines.”

The PAC, he said, was the backbone of PAF’s operational readiness and had displayed its capabilities to meet the challenges with limited resources at the optimum level.

The air chief also extended his gratitude to the Ministry of Defence Production and Chinese Aviation Industry for their continuous support. JF-17B and Block-III production was a significant achievement as it would play an important role in geostrategic milieu due to the technology installed in the modern aircraft.

He mentioned that the project’s completion was not possible without the assistance of Chinese experts, engineers and technicians. This project had further solidified Pak-China friendship and bilateral defence ties, he said.

Air Marshal Anwar also acknowledged the role of media for highlighting Pak-China friendship and collaboration under China Pakistan Economic Corridor and JF-17B Thunder production. He urged the media to further promote the Pak-China ties and collaboration in a positive manner.

He said PAF had demonstrated its capabilities time and again and was ever ready to thwart any aggression of the enemy with a crushing response.

PAC Chairman Air Marshal Syed Nauman Ali briefed the participants over the project details and highlighted that JF-17 Thunder would be the shining symbol of cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.

Despite many odds due to coronavirus-related lockdown in PAC, the technicians and experts completed the project in due time with the extraordinary support of the Chinese experts for meeting the programme targets.

Air Marshal Ali resolved that PAC would stand committed to fulfill the sacred duty of augmenting fighting force and strength to defend the country’s aerial sovereignty.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong said PAC’s successful acquiring of the capacity to build JF-17B Thunder Block-III aircraft set up a perfect model of Pak-China friendship. “Pakistan has become self-sufficient in developing JF-17 Thunder and an advance fighter aircraft producing country in the world. JF-17 Thunder has finally become the backbone of Pakistan’s defence,” he remarked.

He expressed the hope that it would further strengthen defence ties between Pakistan and China. Close collaboration between both countries would bring more success, he said.

The Chinese aviation industry representatives also addressed the ceremony via video messages and the air chief visited the facility where he observed the newly built aircraft whereas PAC school children presented a national song.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2020

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