ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Air Force would soon induct “near to high-tech” and high-tech fleet of fighter-bomber aircraft with the aim to modernize the country’s air force, said Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mamood Ahmed on Friday.
“We have plans to replace our ageing fleet with the fourth and fifth generation fighter-bomber aircraft till year 2015,” he said while briefing newsmen regarding future plans of PAF with special regard to the manufacturing of JF-17 Thunder aircraft with the help of China, at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra.
He said the number of aircraft in the fleet would also be enhanced from existing 320 to 400.
He said PAF was finalizing to purchase high-tech J-10 type aircraft from China and initially two squadrons of this fifth generation aircraft would be inducted in the PAF.
Terming the newly manufactured aircraft JF-17 Thunder as most lethal aircraft, to be included in the inventory of PAF, he said “presently we have plans to induct 150 Thunder aircraft in the fleet and later on their number would be enhanced up to 250.”
“10 to 12 squadrons of PAF would be equipped with the supersonic, lightweight and multi-role Thunder platforms,” he added.
He said the aircraft was capable of carrying all types of weapons and added “JF-17 Thunder is no less than a good aircraft available in the market.”
He said the plan for procurement of 18 brand new and 24 pre-used F-16 aircraft from the US was going according to its schedule. He said the renovation and upgradation of 32 other F-16 aircraft was also going as per the time frame.
He said plans were also in-hand to achieve the technology for air-to-air refueling of the aircraft and added we would attain the capability prior to the induction of JF-17 Thunder in the PAF by the next year.
He said during this year six more JF-17 aircraft would be received from China as in 2008 the serial production of the aircraft would commence. “In next three years Pakistan would be able to produce 50 % avionics and frame of the aircraft,” he said.
The PAF Chief said, 15 aircraft would be manufactured in 2008 while 20 in the next year with the aim to achieve capability to manufacture 25 to 30 aircraft per year.
Answering a question, he said the provision of engine for the aircraft was being managed by China and expressed the hope that there would hardly be any influence of any third country to affect the project.
He said the engine of the aircraft was an improved version of MIG-29 aircraft of Russia and the manufacturer (Russia) has already signed an agreement with China for their uninterrupted supply for JF-17 Thunder.
He dispelled the impression that Pakistan was in any arms race and said “our arms and equipment are for peace and to maintain the peace. We have no offensive design.”
In reply to a question, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed said JF-17 aircraft was manufactured at almost half the price of any other aircraft of fourth or fifth generation platform available in the market.
He said this aircraft (JF-17) was an outcome of the knowledge and expertise gained by Pakistani and Chinese experts by using variety of technologies during the past five decades.
He expressed the hope that in the days to come, the aircraft would capture market, due to its high performance at comparatively low cost.