Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder Block III Fighter Jets
Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder Block III Fighter Jets

Azerbaijani Air Forces Considering Purchase of Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jets

Azerbaijani Air Forces is reportedly interested in purchasing Pakistani JF-17 Block 3 Thunder aircraft following Argentina, and Nigeria. Daily Pakistan quoting military attaché of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Pakistan, Colonel Mehman Novruzov, said “Azerbaijan’s acquisition of JF-17 Thunder jets from Pakistan is a key issue on the bilateral agenda in the field of military-cooperation. Azerbaijan wants to buy state-of-the-art JF-17 Block 3 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan. Adding that, Pakistan is a top priority and is reviewing the purchase of aircraft, as Azerbaijani Air Force is making efforts to upgrade its assets, especially fighter jets.”

In January 2008, Azerbaijan engaged in talks with Pakistan over JF-17’s possible sale to Azerbaijan.[146] In 2015, the Azerbaijani Air Forces negotiated with China for several dozen JF-17s worth approximately US$16 to 18 million each. In 2018, Pakistani Armed Forces actively discussed military and defence cooperation with Azerbaijan, culminating in the latter expressing an interest in purchasing the JF-17 Thunder fighter jet. In December 2018, Turan, an independent Azerbaijani news agency, reported that the negotiations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan on the purchase of JF-17 Block II combat aircraft was coming to the end. In December 2019, Azerbaijan, eyeing military cooperation with Pakistan, expressed its interest in purchasing JF-17 Thunder fighter jet.

CAC/PAC JF-17A Thunder Block 3 Prototype

The PAC JF-17 Thunder or CAC FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon), is a lightweight, single-engine, fourth-generation multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. It was designed to replace the A-5C, F-7P/PG, Mirage III, and Mirage V combat aircraft in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). The JF-17 can be used for multiple roles, including interception, ground attack, anti-ship, and aerial reconnaissance. The JF-17 can deploy diverse ordnance, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, including anti-ship missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon. Powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or Klimov RD-93 afterburning turbofan, it has a top speed of Mach 1.6.

In December 2020, PAC began serial production of a more advanced Block 3 version of the aircraft with improved radar and avionics, a more powerful engine, electronic countermeasures, and enhanced weapons capability. PAF officials have described the JF-17 Block 3 as a “fourth generation plus” fighter jet. Projected to feature further advancements such as a NRIET/CETC KLJ-7A Air-cooled Airborne Fire-Control Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a three-axis digital fly-by-wire flight control system, an infrared search and track (IRST) system, a helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S). The first PAC-produced JF-17 Block 3 aircraft are expected to roll out of the production line in late 2021. The PAF has placed an order for 50 JF-17 Block 3 aircraft, deliveries of which are expected to start from early 2022.