Pakistan Awaits 50 Jets Made With China: Minister

The JF-17 is a lightweight, all-weather, multi-role combat jet aircraft jointly developed by Pakistan and China.

Pakistan hopes to take delivery within the next six months of 50 JF-17 fighter jets manufactured jointly with China, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said May 20 during a visit to Beijing.

Mukhtar made the comments on the sidelines of a meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was wrapping up a four-day visit to China – his country’s long-time ally.

“We think there is a good deal,” said Mukhtar, who put the price of each JF-17, or Thunder, aircraft at $20 million to $25 million “as compared to $80 million for the F-16″, a U.S.-built jet also used by Pakistan’s air force.

Mukhtar did not explicitly say whether the deal had been finalized, but it appeared that the agreement was nearing completion.

Further details of the deal were not made public but the agreement was apparently discussed during the visit by Gilani, who met Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao earlier in the week.

China is Pakistan’s main arms supplier and a close ally of Islamabad.

Pakistan’s air force has a fleet of Chinese aircraft, including F-7PGs and A-5s, but also F-16s and French Mirages.

The neighbors began developing the JF-17 together in 1999 and has said it wants 250 of the jets. In November, Islamabad said it would buy Chinese missiles and flight systems for the jets, Chinese state media reported.

Beijing – AFP