During the Paris Air Show, the first export of the JF-17 was announced officially by Pakistan. In a first time identification of the customer and the number of the order was confidential. The single information was about the region of the customer: Asia. Few days later, information revealed that the mysterious buyer was Sri Lanka, which ordered 18 to 25 JF-17 aircrafts. The deliveries of the multirole combat should begin in 2017.
The JF-17 is a multirole aircraft manufactured jointly by the Pakistan aeronautical Complex and the Chendgu Aircraft Corporation in the framework of a program worth $ 500 million. The aircraft is equipped with one engine, the Russian Klimov RD-93 and has a maximum speed of 1900 km/h and an operational range of 1350 km.
The multirole aircraft is able to carry some of the most modern conventional weapons as air to sea missiles, laser guided weapons and runway penetration bombs.
Willing to modernize its air fleet mainly composed by F-16 fighters, Pakistan Air Force decided to make from the JF-17 its backbone. Indeed the most principal user of the JF-17 is Pakistan and to a lesser extent China.
This first contract will motivate the Pakistani and Chinese developers to promote the JF-17 in the world. This export could open the doors to others friendly countries such as Kuwait, Nigeria, and Qatar. Pakistan is seeking more and more to export its aircraft, and some countries have already showed their interest in the multirole aircraft such as Venezuela, Chile, the Philippine, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Regarding the Arabic countries, the Sino-Pakistani aircraft was the object of discussion with Saudi Arabia, which could participate in the financing and the production of the JF-17. But till today, no agreement was signed. Moreover before buying 24 Rafales, Egypt negotiated with Pakistan an agreement to co-produce the JF-17, with a transfer of technology.
Actually Pakistan and China would like to develop their potential contract of export to the third world countries. From a financial point of view, with a unit cost of $ 30 million, the JF-17 is clearly less expensive than the Gripen, Rafale or F-16 fighters, so the aircraft could be a good alternative for the countries willing to acquire multirole aircrafts with low prices.
Moreover some countries couldn’t receive the permissions required to export this material. It’s the case of Argentina, which desires to replace its F-16 by the Gripen, a will blocked by London, and which is in a cold relation with Buenos Aires since the Falkland’s. As a consequence, they turned to the JF-17 without a signature of export’s contract.