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Pak, China to make fighter planes
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May 10, 2005 11:28 IST

Pakistan hopes to start the joint production of multi-role fighter jets with China from March 2007.

The first batch of JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft were expected to be introduced into the Pakistan air force in 2006, and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) will begin serial production of the aircraft from March 2007, reports said.

The Thunder, which was first test-flown in September 2003, is a medium-technology aircraft which matches the Mirage in performance but has better avionics and weapons, and it would replace the aging fleet of Mirage 3 and 5, A-5 and F-7 aircraft, Air Vice Marshal Shahid Latif, the project director for JF-17 planes, was quoted as saying.

The JF-17 could achieve a speed of 1.6 Mach, altitude of 55,000 feet (16,760 metres) and carry a weapons payload of 3600 kg, he said.

"The project is not only of strategic importance to the air force but it has far-reaching implications both for the national defence and economic prosperity of Pakistan," he said.

According to the PAC chief, Air Marshal Aurangzeb Khan the aircraft will will be far cheaper than the jets being flown by air forces of European countries.

"Most European jets are available with a price tag of more or less $50 million," he said. "One can buy at least three JF-17s in this price."

The plane's Beyond Visual Range (BVR) capability would be superior to that of Indian Air Force jets, he added

The performance of JF-17 prototypes had exceeded expectations, and China wanted 250 aircraft to be added to its fleet while Pakistan was looking to acquire 150, said Latif.

Khan said several countries have shown interest in buying the jet, and Pakistan and China would jointly decide on who the aircraft would be sold to.

More reports from:  Pakistan | China

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