China has delivered first overhauled JF-17 Thunder fighter jet to Pakistan under a project that experts said would benefit the country's aviation industry.
Changsha 5712 Aircraft Industry Co Ltd under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) reassembled the overhauled JF-17 and delivered it to its Pakistani client in March, reported Global Times quoting China Aviation News on Tuesday.
This is also the first time AVIC has overhauled a made-for-export third generation fighter, or fourth generation according to another widely used standard, the report said.
"The first [JF-17] overhaul marks an important milestone [in the JF-17 project]," Fu Qianshao, a Chinese air defence expert, told the Global Times.
The first overhaul represents the trial-and-error phase of the project and provided experience in establishing standards for other JF-17 overhauls in the future, according to Fu.
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Jointly developed and manufactured by China and Pakistan, the single-engine multi-role light fighter jet JF-17 made its maiden flight in 2003.
The first JF-17s were delivered to Pakistani clients in 2007 and a number of them were later commissioned by the Pakistan Air Force.
After a decade of use, it was time for the first JF-17s to undergo overhauls, military analysts said.
A contract was signed in 2016 and the first overhaul started in November 2017. The overhauled aircraft made its first test flight in October 2018, reports said.
An overhaul includes major maintenance featuring repairs and replacement of old components including the airframe and engine, Fu said.
While standard, regular maintenance could be done by the military, an overhaul usually needs to be conducted by a designated and more capable supplier due to higher complexity, he added.
The report originally appeared in Global Times