ISLAMABAD: Amid uncertainty over procuring Russian MiG engines for the fighter aircraft being jointly developed by Pakistan and China, two prototypes of the jet were delivered to the Air Force today. These would make their first public appearance during a military parade on March 23.
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) held a ceremony today to mark the arrival from China of the JF-17 Thunder jets which would take part in the Pakistan Day Parade.
The third-generation aircraft that was conceived in 1992 had been delivered after arriving in Pakistan in the first week of March, a PAF spokesman said in a statement.
“They have undergone test and evaluation flights in order to speed up the development and facilitate maturity of the aircraft,” he said.
The multi-role Light Combat Aircraft made its first test flight in May 2006 at Chengdu in China. Pakistan plans to get 120 of the jets to make it one of its front-line fighters.
The project, however, ran into difficulties as Russia has declined to allow China to fit the aircraft with required MiG engines. Recent media reports from Moscow said Russia would not like to get involved due to its burgeoning defence ties with India.
The JF-17 aircraft, with all-weather navigation and attacking and jamming capability, also has an integrated avionics and weapons delivery system. The spokesman said flight evaluation by PAF would help improve its performance.
He said PAF currently has F-16s, C-130 military transport planes, French-made Mirages and ground attack fighter A-5s. Pakistan has also inked a deal with the US for 18 new F-16 aircraft.