Sino-Pak joint venture JF-17 enters serial production stage

Islamabad: The Pakistan-China JF-17 Thunder combat jet programme has entered the serial production stage, with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday describing the venture as the "flagship" of the strategic and defence cooperation between the two `all-weather` allies.

"This project can truly be termed as the flagship of our historic cooperation and its success would certainly strengthen our time-tested friendship," Gilani said while addressing a gathering of Pakistani and Chinese technicians during a visit to the JF-17 production facility at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra.

Gilani said the Thunder combat jet programme has entered the serial production stage.

Pakistan Air force chief Rao Qamar Suleman said 22 JF-17 jets had been inducted into his force and eight more aircraft were undergoing tests and trials.

The production of the jets began in June 2009 and the first made-in-Pakistan jet rolled out in November 2009, he said.

"A number of air forces around the world were eyeing the new entrant into the arena with keen interest," Suleman said.

Gilani went around different sections of the facility and expressed satisfaction that "project milestones were being accomplished in an efficient and timely manner".

He was informed that the PAC is providing three major computer systems for the JF-17 jets.

These include the weapon mission management computer, electro-mechanical management computer and light warning computer.

The PAC is currently producing three jets a month and will be able to scale up production, officials said.