Friday, July 15, 2011

AirForces Monthly 2010-07

SEVEN YEARS after completing its first flight in China, the JF-17 Thunder is set to make its international debut at the Farnborough International Air Show 2010 (FIAS 10) in July. The presence of the Sino-Pak jointly developed JF-17 is likely to steal this year's show, which takes place from July 19-25, as Pakistan Aeronautical Complex sets about marketing the aircraft to an international audience. The aircraft has been going through test and evaluation since the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) received its first two examples from Chengdu Aircraft Corporation in early 2007. The first operational unit, 26 Squadron, stood up at Kamra-Minhas in February 2010. The PAF has a requirement for around 250 of these single-engined lightweight fighters, which will eventually replace all of its A-5llls, F-7s and Mirages. Last year, PAC Kamra started its own assembly line which saw the first aircraft rolled out on November 23,2009 (see First Pakistani-built JF-17 Rolled Out, January, p4-5). Both aircraft are expected to fly from Pakistan to Farnborough International with a C-130 Hercules acting as support. It is likely that the pair will be equipped with Chinese avionics, including the KLJ-7 radar, as there have been some delays in acquiring the Western systems. In early April it was reported that the French Government would not supply the Thales avionics to the PAF for the JF-17; however, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, told AFM in mid-April that the French procurement agency, the Direction G�n�rale I'Armement (DGA), had assured him that the delivery would go ahead.