NEW DELHI: Pakistan’s first export order of the JF-17 ‘Thunder’ fighter aircraft at the first day of the International Paris Air Show has left India much concerned.
Pakistan was successful in securing its first ever export order for its JF-17 Thunder fighter at the first day of the International Paris Air Show where a contract was confirmed to have been signed with an Asian country, Indian media reported on Tuesday.
PAF Air Commodore dealing in sales and marketing, Khalid Mahmood said, “A contract has been signed with an Asian country.” However, the name of the country was not disclosed and deliveries are likely to begin in 2017.
The latest models of the jets, which are locally produced in cooperation with China, are lightweight multi-role aircraft capable of Mach 2.0 (twice the speed of sound) with an operational ceiling of 55,000 feet.
Eighty people were promoting the JF-17 in Paris this year, reflecting a significant marketing push.
In comparison Indian Air Force (IAF) is struggling with its light combat aircraft ‘Tejas’, which will take another year to become ready for combat. The IAF is greatly concerned as it is down to just 35 fighter squadrons while at least 44 are needed to tackle a threat from Pakistan or China.
Moreover, the much needed Tejas Mark-II which has a more powerful engine likely needs foreign collaboration if the premier prototype is to take to the skies by 2018-2019 as per expected deadlines.
“Tejas Mark-II is still on the drawing board, with only the preliminary design review being completed till now. The critical design review is far off,” a source claimed.
On the other hand, an ongoing commercial negotiation for the acquisition of 36 expensive twin-engine Rafale fighters, the numbers of which may be doubled, is expected to be sealed in a month.
However, the delivery of the jets which are to be acquired via France is expected to be in two years.
The utility of the Tejas which are progressing at snail’s pace lies in them leading to a quicker development of the proposed fifth generation aircraft fighter – advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA).
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2015.