Islamabad: Pakistan has raised two squadrons equipped with the JF-17 Thunder combat jet that was developed jointly with China and plans to have a third squadron by early next year.
Serial joint production of the aircraft started in Pakistan in 2009 after extensive flight tests and the limited production of eight jets in 2007.
So far, two Pakistan Air Force squadrons have been equipped with JF-17s while the "third is planned to be raised by the beginning of next year", an official statement said.
The co-production of the jet is underway in "full swing" at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra in Punjab.
The JF-17 programme was started by the two countries in 1998 and the detailed design was finalised in September 2001.
The PAF showcased the jet at the ongoing Dubai Air Show, which was inaugurated yesterday. PAF chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman attended the inaugural ceremony.
The JF-17 Thunder, which is jointly produced by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China Aero-Technology Import Export Corporation, has been put on static and aerial display in the air show.
Pakistan has been plugging the JF-17 as a "cut price" combat aircraft for developing countries.
"In the present environment, when defence budgets are shrinking and air forces face difficulties in affording modern combat aircraft, the JF-17 offers a highly cost effective solution with cutting edge capabilities," the statement said.
The JF-17 is an all weather, multi-role, light combat aircraft. The jet is equipped with a digital fly-by-wire flight control system, a complete glass cockpit and self-
protection suite that enhances its combat potential.
The jets can be armed with a range of conventional and smart weapons, long range glide bombs, beyond visual range and short range air-to-air missiles, anti-ship missile and air-to-surface missiles.
The statement said the JF-17 will soon have air-to-air refuelling capability, which will enhance its range.