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Pakistan launches production of new fighter jet

19 December, 2013

Pakistani army chief Raheel Sharif (C) arrives to attend a ceremony at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra.
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KAMRA: Pakistan on Wednesday launched the production of a new version of combat aircraft JF-17, which features upgraded avionics and weapons system.

The plane, to be called Block-II JF-17, will be manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex west of Islamabad, which has so far produced 50 older-model Block-I JF-17s for the air force. The complex on Wednesday formally handed over the 50th indigenously produced Block-I JF-17 Thunder aircraft to the air force at a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The JF-17 Thunder has been co-developed and co-produced with the China National Aero-technology Import and Export Corporation.

"The indigenous manufacturing of JF-17s will not only lead to self-reliance and industrialisation but will also further strengthen Pakistan's friendship with China," Nawaz told the ceremony. "The first Block-II JF-17 will be ready by June next year," chief project director Air Vice Marshal Javaid Ahmad told AFP. The Block-II will have improved versions of avionics sub-systems, air-to-air refuelling capability, additional weapons carriage capability and some extra operational capabilities.

Ahmad said several countries in Central Asia, South America and Africa had shown interest in buying the new plane. The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex has the capacity to roll out 16-25 aircraft per year.

While speaking on the occasion, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt highlighted the importance of JF-17 aircraft for the PAF. He said that the aircraft had been designed to fulfil PAF's operational needs and its induction would help PAF to replace its aging fleet of fighter aircraft. The air chief highlighted the fact that there was close cooperation between the aviation industries of China and PAC, and the JF-17 project was the strongest link in this context.

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