ISLAMABAD, Sept 6: Pakistan and China are ready to sign a contract for serial production of the first batch of forty-two JF-17 Thunder aircraft after 10 months of deliberations on the configuration of different parts of the planes.

In an interview with DawnNews TV, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood Ahmed said Pakistan had already received eight JF-17s and added that production of the 42 aircraft was likely to be completed by the end of 2010.

He said JF-17s had Russian RD-93 engine installed on them but Pakistan Air Force was looking for some western engine for the new batch of the aircraft. He said the life of the Russian engine was almost one-fourth as compared to the western engines.

The air chief said that since President Nicolas Sarkozy had assumed office the French had changed their policy towards Pakistan and were now willing to offer Air Borne Radar RC-400, mission computer and other equipment for the JF-17s. The PAF is evaluating the French offer.

The interview with the PAF chief will be telecast by DawnNews on Sunday at 1430 Hours.

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