Pakistani-Chinese JF-17 Thunder fighter might be the beginning of the end of western dominance of the global fighter aircraft market.
The JF-17’s international flight debut at the Paris Air Show 2015 was further enhanced by the absence of US fighters such as the F-16 and F/A-18. In addition the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab Gripen and BAE Systems Hawk too did not take to the Skies.
The JF-17, flown by Pakistani air force pilots was the only new fighter at the flying displays. It stole the show with its deft flying and the lone announcement for fighter aircraft order at the show.
The Pakistani marketing team announced the sale of the low-cost, lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat jet JF-17 to an Asian country on Monday. The fighter estimated to be priced at $20 million apiece is cheaper than any western fighter aircraft and might be just about twice that of the light attack and surveillance aircraft, Embraer Super Tucano which costs an approximate $10.6 million apiece.
The JF-17 costs a forth of the American-built F-16s (estimated $80 million apiece) and a third of Swedish Saab JAS Gripen (estimated $61 million) and fifth of Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale (estimated $95 million apiece).
Pakistan has ordered 50 of JF-17s to be delivered in the next six months costing anywhere between $1 billion and $1.25 billion.
Although the aircraft has not been selling like hotcakes on the international budget fighter market, Yesterday’s deal might be the start of sales to other countries.
Pakistan had offered 16 JF-17 jets under a tender for the Bulgarian Air Force in March this year. The Bulgarian Defense Ministry’s other shortlisted aircraft included the considerably more expensive US F-16s, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Swedish Gripen.
Argentina and Nigeria are both facing a set of procurement constraints that make the JF-17 an attractive option. Pakistani media reports also floated other potential destinations for the JF-17 in 2013 that include Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iran, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
The Aircraft is jointly developed by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation and can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack and aircraft inception and is known as FC-1 Xiaolong in China.