ISLAMABAD, March 14: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has received another six JF-17 Thunder aircraft from China. Two such aircraft were received earlier.

According to an official announcement, the aircraft have been inducted into the PAF for test and evaluation flight at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra.

Four of the aircraft will participate in the Pakistan Day fly-past on March 23.

JF-17 Thunder aircraft is an advanced multi-role light combat aircraft jointly developed by China and Pakistan under a strategic collaboration project.

The aircraft is designed to be cost-effective and can meet the tactical and strategic needs of the PAF.

A source in the PAF told Dawn that the serial production of JF-17 Thunder has already started and the production capacity would be gradually taken to 25 aircraft per year by 2011.

He said that about 60 per cent of the aircraft’s frame and 80 per cent of its avionics would be manufactured in Pakistan by 2010.

He said the first 50 aircraft would have avionics of Chinese origin while the next batch would be fitted with indigenously-developed avionics and European radars.

Pakistan had begun negotiations with British and Italian defence firms over potential avionics and other systems for JF-17.

He said the PAF would induct 150 aircraft into its inventory in the first phase, under an agreement with the Chinese company, and the total induction could go up to 250.

The JF-17 will replace Pakistan’s MiG-21-derived Chengdu F-7, Nanchang A-5 and Mirage III/V currently in service.

Azerbaijan and Zimbabwe have each placed orders as well. Nine other countries which have expressed interest in purchasing the JF-17 are Bangladesh, Myanmar, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Algeria.

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