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Pakistan Selling JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets to the Iraqi Air Force

Pakistan Selling JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets to the Iraqi Air Force

Recent reports indicate that Pakistan has achieved a significant milestone by securing an agreement to supply 12 JF-17 Thunder Block III fighter jets to the Iraqi Air Force Upon finalization, Iraq will become the fourth or fifth customer of the JF-17 fighter jets.

According to the EurAsian Times, this development closely follows Pakistan’s successful negotiation of another multi-million-dollar deal to deliver 12 MFI-17 Super Mushshak trainer aircraft to Zimbabwe. Citing “credible sources” within the Pakistan Air Force, The Nation reported that Pakistan has struck a deal worth US $1.8 billion with Baghdad, encompassing the supply of 12 units each of the MFI Mushshak trainer and JF-17 fighter aircraft.

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The agreement follows a landmark defense cooperation pact between Pakistan and Iraq, inked during discussions between Pakistan Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Babar and his Iraqi counterpart in the Ministry of Defense.

Representatives from Iraq, including Secretary General of Defense Lt Gen Ahmed Dawood and Lt Gen Shahab Jahid Ali of the Iraqi Defense Ministry, participated in the negotiations. The Iraqi Air Force received its initial tranche of Mushshak aircraft in 2023, prompting its decision to procure a second tranche from Pakistan.

The MFI-17 Super Mushshak, known for its lightweight construction and robust design, serves as a versatile two/three-seater, single-engine aircraft. It is equipped with fixed, non-retractable, tricycle landing gear and is certified to meet US FAR 23 standards in the Normal and Utility categories, capable of operating from short, unprepared strips.

The report suggests that following the delivery of 12 additional Mushaq trainer aircraft to Iraq, Pakistan will proceed with supplying twelve JF-Thunder Block III fighter jets, with technical details currently under discussion.

In the global market, JF-17 and India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) have competed for export orders. While the LCA has yet to secure any, the sale of JF-17 to the Iraqi Air Force marks its fourth international customer, following acquisitions by Nigeria, Myanmar, and Azerbaijan, the latter having finalized its deal. Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Babar reportedly sought to assure Iraqi defense officials regarding the technical capabilities of the JF-17 aircraft. Iraqi officials are anticipated to visit Pakistan soon to inspect the manufacturing process of these aircraft at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra.

The JF-17 Thunder, jointly developed by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corp, features a Chinese airframe, Western avionics, and a Russian engine. With over 125 aircraft in service, the JF-17 serves as the backbone of the PAF, having been utilized for airstrikes against terrorists and reportedly engaging an Iranian-made drone in 2017.

The JF-17 Thunder, a single-engine, lightweight, multi-role combat aircraft, has undergone multiple upgrades since its induction in 2007, with PAC Kamra having delivered nearly 120 JF-17 Block I and II fighter jets to the PAF.

With a service ceiling of 50,000 feet and a top speed of approximately 1,200 mph, the JF-17 is equipped to perform various tasks, including aerial interception and ground assault, boasting a payload capacity of around 7,000 pounds and armed with a single twin-barrel 23 mm autocannon.