Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder Is A Top Contender In Malaysia’s Aircraft Competition

Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder Is A Top Contender In Malaysia's Aircraft Competition
Credits: Government of Pakistan

According to The Korea Times report, The Sino-Pak JF-17 Thunder fighter jet appears to be a top contender in Malaysia’s aircraft competition. The Pakistani fighter jet is competing against the South Korean FA-50 Golden Eagle counterpart for the requirement.

“Despite interest from a diverse group of manufacturers, the FA-50 and JF-17 are the finalists,” an unnamed official told the Korean newspaper.

The main contenders in the Malaysian Air Force’s hunt for a Light Combat Aircraft include China-Pakistan’s JF-17 thunder, South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle, Russian YAK-130, BAE Systems’ armed Hawk, Tejas Mk-1A, and the Swedish Gripen.

 Pakistan renewed efforts last year, most notably at April’s DSA defense expo in Malaysia and November’s IDEAS defense conference in Pakistan. Pakistan is offering the latest Block III variant.

The JF-17 costs $25 million per unit, and the Tejas and the FA-50 cost approximately $28 million and $30 million respectively. An order of 36 JF-17 fighters would mean “a very substantial amount will be saved.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad has also lauded the strength of Pakistan Air Force’s fighter jet JF-17 Thunder.

Giving an interview after his visit to Pakistan in 2019, Mohammad said that Malaysia will get one or two planes initially for evaluation and tests.

PM Mahathir was briefed on JF-17 Thunder fighter jets at the Nur Khan Airbase before his departure from the country as his three-day visit concluded on March 23. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who was presented with a flying jacket on the occasion, also inspected the cockpit of a JF-17 Thunder and was briefed about its technical details by the officers of the Pakistan Air Force.

CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder

This single-engine China-Pakistan JF-17 Thunder fighter is a fourth-generation lightweight combat jet that can be used for multiple roles, including interception, ground attack, anti-ship, and aerial reconnaissance.

Unlike its arch-rival HAL Tejas, the JF-17 is comparatively successful when one looks at its deployment in combat zones. It has taken part in counter-terrorism operations in northwest Pakistan as well as in 2019 ‘Operation Swift Retort’ in response to India’s Balakot airstrike to dismantle terror infrastructure.

The aircraft has a top speed of Mach 1.6 with the ability to supercruise. The JF-17 is able to deploy diverse ordnance, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, and has an internal 23 mm Russian GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon.

KAI’s FA-50 ‘Golden Eagle’

Jointly developed by South Korea’s aerospace company KAI and the American defense giant Lockheed Martin, the FA-50 is the fighter variant of T-50 supersonic trainer aircraft and has been exported to Iraq and the Philippines. This is also on offer to countries such as Croatia, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

The FA-50 has seen operational combat deployment mainly with the Philippine Air Force and has been used extensively in its fight against terrorists, including in the famous Battle of Marawi. On January 26, 2017, two FA-50PHs conducted the first combat sorties by the type, in a nighttime attack on terrorist hideouts in Butig, Lanao del Sur in Mindanao in the Philippines.

The aircraft has a top speed of Mach 1.5 and can carry a wide variety of western air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions.

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