Thursday, March 10, 2005

FC-1/JF-17 going into service with Pakistani Air Force

Pakistan acquiring new fighter jets

Published March 9, 2005

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan is set to induct by June next year the first squadron of supersonic fighter planes it made jointly with China, officials said.

Pakistan began to work on the state-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder along with China in the early 1990s, when the United States banned arms supplies to Islamabad following a difference over its nuclear program.

Pakistani defense officials told United Press International the first batch of six planes would be handed over to the Pakistan Air Force by June 2006.

Eventually, the air force will have 150 F-17 jet fighters, the officials said, but did not elaborate how long it would take to acquire all the planes.

The first test flight of the supersonic jet was successfully conducted in September 2003 in China. The prototype is expected to be finished within a couple of months.

The planes have been equipped with latest avionics, which are also developed jointly by China and Pakistan. China Air Force is likely to induct more than 500 JF-17 fighter planes in the future.

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