JF-17 blunder: What else you can get for the price of 50 fighter jets?

Compared to the F-16, the JF-17 is cheap. But can the money be better utilised?.

Gulraiz Khan May 21, 2011


Pakistan is getting a good deal, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar will tell you. Instead of paying $80 million per piece for the American-built F-16s, the JF-17 Thunder fighter jets will cost us about a fourth of that, between $20 and $25 million per piece.

The deal is so good, the minister says, that we’ve ordered 50 of the JF-17s to be delivered in the next six months.

How much would that cost us? Between $1 and $1.25 billion. That doesn’t sound awfully expensive for national defence in itself but how else could we spend about $1.25 billion?


About seven million children in Pakistan are not enrolled in primary schools, according to Pakistan Education Task Force. With $1.25 billion, The Citizen’s Foundation, a private NGO that runs schools for underprivileged children, could educate 1.8 million of them for three years in over 7,000 schools built from scratch. Of course, if it was spent more wisely on already constructed schools, it could possibly resolve Pakistan’s education emergency.


The Saudi government built basic health units at a cost of Rs13 million each in quake-affected a reas. That means instead of 50 fighter jets, we could have 8,173 basic health units, or over 1,400 fully-equipped, 50-bed hospitals.


Lack of infrastructure – roads, airports, public transit systems – is a serious constraint on Pakistan’s development. Meanwhile, the floods destroyed the already-existing highway network in the country. For $1.25 billion, the National Highway Authority could build approximately 2,500 kilometres of brand new, four-lane highways or 1,250 kms of world-class, six-lane, access controlled motorways. That’s more than three times the length of the famed Islamabad-Lahore motorway.

Of course, it could alternatively be spent on the much-needed Gwadar airport, 13 times over!

And if I were to be selfish and think just about Karachi, it could pay for 80% of the Karachi Circular Railway’s cost, or give the city a modern bus rapid transit network, four times. That’s real splurging.


Each megawatt (MWe) of power produced by a thermal plant costs about $1 million in plant construction etc, on average. $1.25 billion would mean we add an additional 1,250 MWe of electricity to our starved network. Of course, there is no guarantee we’d be able to produce and then use it since lack of electricity is not due to lack of installed generation capacity. But if you’re jingoistic enough, one could also use the 50 fighter jets money for an additional nuclear reactor at Chashma that would produce 340 MWe of electricity.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2011.


hassan | 10 years ago | Reply the author is clearly missing the bigger picture.. to compare the necessity of national Air defense with other problems of a developing nation...specially when you have such a strategic location and your surronded with enemies like India and USA and northern alliance in afghanistan..........i see the air superiority the essential ingredient to have an upper hand in todays art of warfare. Admitting the fact that we do not have basic health facilities and education and infrastructure facilities doesn't give the right to cut short your defense specially after what usa did to Taliban in Afghanistan and Sadaam regime in Iraq and the Abottabad incident in Pakistan.. * Secondly if we look at the militant attack on anti submarine aircrafts.. you will clearly know our enemies doesnt want to have air or naval superiority.*.. the Quaid laid solid foundation to our national defense and people like the author of this article are spreading hatred towards our armed forces and towards the spending.. . if the author is that inclined in pointing out wastage of resources why hasn't it pointed out any meaningful wastage anything besides defense.... mark my words when you don't have strong guards and defense you will always be an easy catch for the invaders this has been the biggest reality of this and ancient times..those who failed to recognize its need have vanquished without a trace... take a look at the ethic massacres in Bosnia and Kosovo....Any amount spent on defense is never waste it will pay you back when you are really in need of it... Air superiority can not be archived without planning it ahead of 50 years...
Junaid Shafqat Paracha | 10 years ago | Reply stop being so cynical guys...Gulraiz was trying to make a very valid point here, our ledership is spending blindly and very unwisely. the article is very illuminating. threat or no threat your first priority should be internal stability, if you are so weak from within that random people can attack your bases from within the country then adding shiny JF-17s wont solve your problems. Gulraiz's point is that you have to basically solve the basic problems that this country is facing : education, health, basic utilities.
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