China delivered an overhauled version of a jointly developed fighter jet to Pakistan in March within weeks of the Indian and Pakistani air forces clashing along the Line of Control (LoC) in late February, it has now emerged.
Changsha 5712 Aircraft Industry, which operates under the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), reassembled the overhauled JF-17 fighter jet and delivered it to Pakistan in March, China Aviation News reported earlier this week.
This is 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 JF-17, or the FC-1, is a single-engine multi-role light fighter jet jointly developed by China and Pakistan for export, according to the website of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
“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 on Tuesday.
Besides overhauling the existing jets, the two countries have also begun upgrading it under the ‘JF-17 Block 3’ project.
The upgrade will give the jet “informatised warfare capability and weapons” or the capability to use of cutting-edge communication technology in modern warfare.
Talking about the delivery of the overhauled jet, a weapons expert said it increases flight safety.
Such an overhaul can ensure flight safety after years of use, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese air defence expert told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“It might also equip the aircraft with newer technologies that enhance its capability, or prolong the aircraft’s lifespan,” he said.
Dozens of Pakistani air force personnel were dispatched to China to be trained by Chinese aircraft engineers during the process of overhauling the aircraft, part of the close-knit cooperation module followed by Beijing and Islamabad in defence.
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 told state media.
Fu said since procedures and standards for the overhaul have been established, future overhauls on other JF-17s could be done by Pakistani personnel.
“Under the framework of China-Pakistan cooperation, Pakistan’s aviation industry will continue to develop,” Fu noted.
May 22, 2019 11:39 IST