DesPardes + PKonweb

Azerbaijan Interested In ‘Combat-Proven’ JF-17 Sino-Pakistani Jets

Pakistan also hopes to sell 36 JF-17 Block III Thunder aircraft to Malaysia

PKONWEB Report — A number of reports indicate that the Azeri Air Force is set to finalize a contract for the acquisition of up to two dozen of the (recently) combat-proven Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Block II single engine multirole fighters with Pakistan to modernize its warfighting capabilities. While Baku has enjoyed a close defense partnership with Israel, and increasingly with NATO countries and Turkey in particular, these parties are not capable of manufacturing a capable low cost combat jet suitable for the country’s Air Force. With relations with Russia remaining far from friendly, and with the country looking to strengthen its defenses against both neighboring Armenia and Iran, the JF-17 could well be the ideal fighter jet for the country.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) operates around 85 JF-in total of 17 Block I and Block II aircraft as of March 2019. These aircraft has an approximate combat radius of up to 1,200 kilometers without refueling. 

The Diplomat

Azerbaijan’s armed forces have expressed interest in acquiring the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 single engine fourth generation fighter since 2015, and the former Soviet republic could well become the third foreign client for the  fighter jet after Myanmar and Nigeria.

The acquisition of JF-17s Block II fighters, which deploy modern long range air to air missiles and provide a robust beyond visual range air to air capability, will revolutionize the country’s aerial warfare capabilities.

The former Soviet republic has acquired Turkish SOM cruise missiles which are not currently compatible with combat aircraft in the Azeri Air Force – but could potentially be fitted onto the JF-17 to provide a lethal strike capability, report militarywatchmagazine.com.

The JF-17 Block II costs $25 million per unit, although the Block III per-unit price is expected to go up as a result of the new subsystems, including the expensive new AESA radar system. The PAF intends to procure up to 50 new Block III aircraft.

The Diplomat

Alternatively, the JF-17’s own Chinese built YJ-12 cruise missiles provide considerably superior capabilities to their Turkish counterpart with a longer range and near hypersonic speed of over Mach 4.

The JF-17’s low maintenance requirements and acquisition costs make it a particularly attractive option for the cash strapped Central Asian state.

Pakistan also hopes to sell 36 JF-17 Thunder aircraft to Malaysia, according to defensenews.com

The JF-17 is under consideration alongside the Tejas, produced by India and the FA-50 Golden Eagle, made by South Korea. Pakistan’s offering is the most affordable of the three.

Pakistan is offering the latest Block III variant.

Earlier this year, the JF-17 Block II aircraft made a successful combat debut and downing an Indian Air Force fighter jet in military standoff with India post-Pulwama attack in occupied Kashmir.

The IAF jets had crossed Pakistani territory when one of them was shot down by a JF-17 and its pilot captured– he was later released in a gesture of goodwill and peace.