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Is Argentina going to purchase JF-17 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan?

Argentina is reportedly considering purchasing JF-17 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan to consolidate its defensive capabilities after having been refused the same by South Korea.

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According to some media reports, Argentina is considering purchasing JF-17 Thunder aircraft from Pakistan to consolidate its defensive capabilities after having been refused the same by South Korea.

The Air Chief of the Argentine Air Force, Brigadier Xavier Isaac has reportedly stated that the Argentine Air Force is now contemplating purchasing JF-17 Thunder Block-III from Pakistan, adding that a high-level delegation of the Argentine Air Force had visited Pakistan in 2017 to examine the fighter jet.

The South Korean aerospace company KAI reportedly had an agreement with the Argentine Air Force to supply it FA-50 fighter aircraft but rescinded as it capitulated to the diplomatic pressure of the United Kingdom (UK) which is Argentina’s geopolitical rival.

What is JF-17?

The PAC JF-17 Thunder is a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China.

According to the available reports, it was designed to replace the A-5C, F-7P/PG, Mirage III, and Mirage V combat aircraft in the Pakistan Air Force. Experts are of the view that the JF-17 can be used for multiple roles, including interception, ground attack, anti-ship, and aerial reconnaissance. Its designation “JF-17” by Pakistan is short for “Joint Fighter-17”, while the designation and name “FC-1 Xiaolong” by China means “Fighter China-1 Fierce Dragon”.

Sabtain Ahmed Dar, a Lahore-based academic and security analyst, spoke to GVS to explain the origin of the JF-17 Thunder. “The true origin of JF-17 remains controversial even today. It has always been a subject to politics by the civil and military administrations, however it is a fact that it is part of an evolution that started from Project Saber II or Project Super 7, technically both projects were meant to upgrade the Chinese J-7 tailored to meet PAF’s requirements but when we see the evolved JF-17 of today it is way more sophisticated and advanced to the latter,” he said.

Read more: JF-17 Block III vs F-16 Fighting Falcon C: A Race JF-17 Thunder won by a Mile

He explained that: “The foundational work of modern JF-17 started in the late 1990s. The airframe design was freeze in 2001 due to lack of R&D funds however the first prototype took to air in 2003. A total of 6 prototypes have been made after production started. As of 2020 PAF has 120+ operational units in service. There are two blocks (Block I and Block II) and the work on Block III is in progress which is near to its completion. Block II also has a Dual seat variant.”

JF 17’s role in taking IAF’s fighter jets

Mr. Dar explained that currently, it has SD-10(PL12) and PL-5EII as it’s primary air to air weapons and a variety of precision bombs, laser-guided bombs, air to ground missiles, anti-radiation missiles, and in marine time role it carries deadly CM-400 AKG carrier killer missile. Additionally, C-802 anti-ship missiles are also part of Jf-17’s arsenal.

“Jf-17 block III will be introduced with more advanced weapons systems including PL1-15 long-range BVR missiles and High Off boresight missile which can elevate it to the level of Rafael to much extent. Its nose will house an AESA Radar and many avionics components and EW capabilities will be improved as the learning curve on JF-17 block III improves,” he added.

Read more: Pakistan used JF-17 Thunders not F-16s to down Indian jets: DG ISPR

He also explained that “Jf-17 has played a very important role on 27th February, 2019. Jf-17 was part of the strike package of PAF which targeted six different points inside Indian Occupied Kashmir. It displayed an excellent stand of range and jamming capabilities. After PAF’s retaliatory strikes to punish Indian misadventures, Jf-17 served on the front line on combat air patrol missions. It has always been one of PAF’s front line and reliable assets since it’s induction in 2010.”

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