As Nigeria awaits the delivery of three JF-17 Thunder block II from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, (PAC), recent photographs released indicates a new batch of JF-17 aircraft from PAC’s facility intended for export has emerged.
According to unofficial Pakistani sources, the recent production of JF-17 Block II Thunders with the serial number 2P-60, 2P-61, 2P-62 are slated to be exported to Nigeria this November.
The Nigerian Air Force will take delivery of three JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter jet on or before November 2020, this is according a new report by the Nigerian Chief of Air Staff, (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar during the graduation ceremony of 2,079 new recruits to boost internal operations.
In 2017, Pakistan’s government through the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet approved the issuance of a certificate of sovereign guarantee for the sale of three JF-17 aircraft to Nigerian Air Force against a sum of $184.3 million, to support the declining foreign exchange reserves.
The Ministry of Defence Production had tabled a summary before the ECC which approved the issuance of a certificate of sovereign guarantee to show commitment for the provision of the aforementioned aircraft to Nigerian Air Force, in line with a contract signed between the two sides recently.
In 2016, Pakistan and Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding for the purchase of three JF-17s. Notably, Nigeria’s 2016 federal budget reportedly allocated $25 million for three JF-17 fighter jets.
Furthermore, the Nigerian 2018 defense budget included $36 million earmarked as partial payment for the three fighter jets, making a grand total of NGN29,792,977,384.
Although, the contract did not specify the exact variant of the JF-17 Thunder soon to be delivered, however, it is expected to be the JF-17 Block II which has been in development since 2013.
The new JF-17 Thunder aircraft will replace Nigeria’s aging fleet of less than ten Chengdu F-7 AirGuard which has suffered attrition since its acquisition in 2009.
The PAC JF-17 Thunder (also known as the CAC FC-1 Xiaolong – “Fierce Dragon”), 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. The JF-17 can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack, and aircraft interception.
Powered by a Russian designed but Chinese license-built Klimov RD-93 (an RD-33 derivative) turbofan engine, the JF-17, a light-weight single-engine multirole combat aircraft, has a combat radius of up to 1,200 kilometers without refueling and can reach a maximum speed of up to Mach 1.6. The aircraft is capable of carrying a weapons payload of over 3.5 tons and can be armed with a variety of air-to-air, air-to-surface, and anti-ship missiles.
The PAF is expected to induct 150 JF-17 combat aircraft over the next years, split into three productions blocks: Block I, Block II, and Block-III. PAC has so far produced 50 Block I aircraft and 50 Block II JF-17s. Twelve more Block II JF-17 aircraft are expected to be rolled out in 2018. Pakistan is estimated to be capable of assembling up to 25 JF-17 aircraft per year without technical or logistical assistance from China. (PAC produces 58 percent of the airframe and CAC 42 percent.) Once the Block-II JF-17 order is complete this year, PAC will switch to producing the aircraft’s most advanced version.
The two-seat trainer variant of the JF-17, designated JF-17B, could be the basis for the JF-17 Block III variant. The PAF’s JF-17 is also slated to be retrofitted with a Chinese-made active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, according to Chinese media reports. The latest version of the aircraft will also feature a new electronic warfare suite.