For the first time in history, Pakistan aims to hit $1 billion defence exports with JF – 17 Thunder fighter jet.
According to a report by the Nikkei Asian Review report, Pakistan is looking to expand its export of arms, with the end goal of selling $1 billion worth of defence equipment every year. In fact, it has already started increasing its arms sales.
A senior Pakistani government official told the Nikkei Asian Review that arms exports exceeded $210 million in the fiscal year through June. The total represents a significant increase from the approximately $100 million in arms sales two years earlier.
Five years earlier, another official noted, Pakistan’s defense exports came to approximately $60 million.
Though there is no public data available on what kind of weapons were exported or where it is thought that China has played a big role in Pakistani arms production. An example is the JF-17 Thunder fighter jets that are jointly manufactured by the two countries.
“The JF-17 has helped Pakistan lay the groundwork for self-sufficiency,” said defence analyst Lt Gen (retired) Talat Masood. He said China has also helped Pakistan produce tanks, supported its air force through the JF-17 project and its navy with assistance in building warships and submarines.
In 2016, Pakistan signed a deal with Myanmar for the sale of 16 JF-17 fighters and though the actual contract value was not made public, officials have privately said it was for around $400 million.
In addition to this, Pakistan has sold three JF-17s to Nigeria, signed a deal with Turkey to sell 52 Super Mushshak training aircraft and 1,000 PK-83 general-purpose bombs.
Collaborating with China has helped Pakistan improve its ability to produce advanced weapons, according to analysts. “Pakistan has graduated well beyond just a manufacturer of small weapons,” a senior foreign ministry official said. “We are now looking at big-ticket items.”
Other analysts say Pakistan’s access to major markets will be limited and it will have to rely on countries with budgetary constraints, like those in Africa.