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ATTOCK, Jan 22: Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed has said that the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) is looking forward to achieving, within one year, the capacity of producing annually 15 JF-17 aircraft.

He was addressing the launching ceremony of JF-17 Thunder sub-assembly at the PAC, Kamra, on Tuesday. The ceremony marked yet another milestone in defence cooperation between Pakistan and China.

“On this momentous occasion, the PAF congratulates the countrymen on this singular success and reassures that the ‘Fazaia’ would always uphold the sacred trust of being a symbol of pride for the nation,” he said.

The air chief said that in two to three years the production capacity would be enhanced to 20-25 aircraft.

“I am also looking forward to setting up the first JF-17 operational conversion unit by the end of this year,” he said.

“I would like to remind everyone, especially, the personnel of PAC Kamra of the challenge and promise of success that lie ahead, as you embark upon the coveted goal of manufacturing,” he said.

“It is for you to seize the opportunity and make your nation proud,” he said.

The JF-17 Thunder project envisages co-production of the aircraft both in China and Pakistan.The objective of setting up JF-17 production facilities at the PAC is not only to enhance the PAF’s operational capability at affordable price but also to create employment opportunities for about 5,000 people.

The production of sub-assemblies would, subsequently, be expanded to encompass the parts manufacturing, final assembly and flight testing. Fighter aircraft manufacturing, he said, which was once a closely guarded realm of developed countries, “is now well within our reach.”

The success today stands on the foundations of the perseverance of our pilots, engineers and technicians and their Chinese counterparts.”

JF-17 Thunder aircraft is an advanced, multi-purpose, light combat aircraft, jointly developed by China and Pakistan.

It is a key collaboration strategic project between the two countries. The project has already made some big strides, achieving major milestones like the first flight of prototype aircraft, PT-01 in August, 2003, PT-03 in April, 2004, and PT-4, with fully integrated configuration, on May 10, 2006, taking the programme to a new height.

Later, PT-06 made its maiden flight in September, 2006, paving the way for smooth flight testing process.

In order to speed up the development progress and facilitate maturity of the aircraft, two JF-17 aircraft of the small batch production were received in Pakistan at a ceremony presided over by the president on March 21, last year.

Subsequently, these aircraft made their debut by participating in the National Day fly past on March 23.