Egypt is interested in the purchase of JF-17 Thunder aircraft, Egyptian Ambassador to Pakistan Sherif Shaheen told Federal Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain during a meeting
The minister informed the ambassador that Pakistan was at present selling its traditional weapons to US, UK, Germany and some Far Eastern countries.
He offered the sale of JF-17 Thunder and Super Mashak to Egypt and said Iraq had already signed an agreement with Pakistan for the purchase of 20 Super Mashak while a deal with Turkey for the sale of 52 Super Mashak had almost been finalised.
Rana Tanveer emphasised the need for joint venture in defence production between the two countries. Ambassador Shaheen said Egypt was looking for collaboration with Pakistan in the defence industry.
A defense delegation from Egypt would visit defense production facilities in Pakistan to look into the possibility of buying defense-related products, he added. The minister invited the distinguished guest to visit defense production establishments of Pakistan.
The Egyptian Air Force has reportedly shown considerable interest in acquiring an advanced variant of the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder single-engine light fighter to replace its large fleet of aging second generation fighters. Egypt’s Air Force is currently among the largest in the world, but the country relies heavily on aging variants of the Soviet MiG-21 and French Mirage 2000 – of which several hundred are currently in service.
The country also fields a single squadron of Chinese J-7 fighters, acquired in the 1970s, and Vietnam War era U.S. manufactured F-4 Phantoms. These aircraft are all prized for their reliability and low operational costs, and give the Egyptian fleet a considerable numeric advantage over all potential adversaries, but have not been adequately modernized with up to date sensors, avionics or electronic warfare systems. These legacy aircraft also lack the ability to operate modern munitions – and in the air to air combat are restricted to short range engagements.
The JF-17 was designed to provide third world defense clients with a highly cost-effective and low maintenance fighter capable of deploying advanced modern munitions and represents a considerable upgrade two generations ahead of Egyptian legacy fighters.
The JF-17 Block 3 in which Egypt has show particularly strong interest makes use of confirming fuel tanks, state of the art electronic warfare systems and an active electronically scanned array radar – with its advanced capabilities making it a ‘4+ generation’ combat jet. The fighter’s low operational costs and maintenance needs mean that replacing older jets with the JF-17 will not significantly increase the overall operational costs of the Egyptian fighter fleet – the same which cannot be said for other fourth or ‘4+ generation’ systems such as the Russian MiG-29M or U.S. F-18 Hornet.
The JF-17 will not only represent an upgrade over Egypt’s legacy fleet, but the Block 3 variant will also be considerably more capable than the F-16 Fighting Falcons which currently comprise the mainstay of the country’s fighter fleet. While Egypt fields over 200 F-16s forming nine squadrons, these are primarily older variants of the Fighting Falcon which lack the advanced electronic warfare systems and sensors of their Sino-Pakistani counterparts.
The key advantage the JF-17 provides Egypt relative to the F-16 however is its ability to deploy modern air to air munitions – as Egypt has for decades been prohibited from acquiring U.S. AIM-120B air to air missiles – much less the more modern AIM-120C currently deployed by neighbouring Israel. The lack of the American AIM-120 has left Egypt’s Fighting Falcons reliant on decades old AIM-7 sparrow missiles for medium and long range air to air missions, and these platforms are both restricted in range and extremely easy to evade using modern electronic countermeasures such as those deployed by Israeli fighters.
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