A Pakistani Air Force (PAF) JF-17 fighter jet crashed earlier today marking the fifth such crash for a PAF aircraft this year.
In five crashes since January 2020, three pilots have died in two crashes while pilots in three other crashes have ejected safely.
A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) aircraft crashed near Pindigheb, Attock, on Tuesday, the PAF said in a statement adding "the pilot ejected safely. No loss of life or property has been reported on ground."
The PAF said that a board of inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of the crash which is the fifth such incident since the start of this year.
While the PAF did not identify the aircraft, ejection seat manufacturer, Martin Baker whose seats are installed in the JF-17 said in a Twitter post, “a Pakistan Air Force JF-17 aircraft crashed earlier today during a routine training mission, the pilot ejected successfully.”
“This marks the first JF-17 ejection, an aircraft that’s fitted with Martin-Baker PK16LE ejection seats,” the statement added.
With the pilot ejecting, it is clear indication of irrecoverable technical fault with the JF-17. This should come as bad news to the PAF which is depending upon the JF-17 as its main strike aircraft. A two seat version is under production while the single seat version is transitioning to the Block III standard which includes major upgrades to its radar, engine and avionics.
Two prototypes of the JF-17 Block III are reportedly under test and the aircraft is expected to enter mass production in 2021-22 timeframe.
In March, a PAF F-16 aircraft crashed near Shakarparian in Islamabad during rehearsals for the March 23 parade. Wing Commander Nauman Akram was killed in the crash. A PAF trainer aircraft crashed on February 12 near Takht Bhai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Mardan district. It was the third PAF training aircraft to have crashed while on a routine training mission in less than two months.
In the same month, a PAF Mirage had crashed near the Lahore-Multan Motorway. Pilots in both cases had ejected safely. Earlier in January, a PAF aircraft had crashed near Mianwali. Both pilots – Squadron Leader Haris bin Khalid and Flying Officer Ibaadur Rehman – aboard the PAF FT-7 aircraft had lost their lives in the crash.