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Azerbaijan, Pakistan unfold new chapter in defence cooperation

Azerbaijan, Pakistan

Azerbaijan and Pakistan are unfolding a new chapter in their bilateral cooperation as strategic partners. According to Pakistani sources, the two countries signed a deal on JF-17 Block-III fighter jets. Azerbaijan will purchase Pakistan-made fighter jets worth $1.6bn. In addition, a contract covers training pilots and the acquisition of ammunition for the jet.

It is worth noting that similar news has been disseminated in the mass media previously but has never been confirmed. However, it seems that the deal will be completed this time because, according to the Turkish media, the Pakistani company is aiming to produce a total of 62 JF-17 Block III versions and deliver all of them to the Pakistan Air Force by 2024. After delivery to the Pakistani army, it seems an export could happen.

Speaking to Azernews on the issue, Dr. Mehmood ul Hassan Khan noted that, interestingly, it has been widely circulated on numerous social media outlets, along with “X,” indicating the signing of a historic deal for the purchase of JF-17 Thunder Block-III in Pakistan as well as in Azerbaijan. Even Azerbaijani media outlets published a story titled “Pakistan signs largest ever fighter jet sale deal with Azerbaijan.”

“Furthermore, some senior and reliable sources from Pakistani media outlets confirmed that the agreement for the sale of JF-17 Thunder Block 3 aircraft between two brotherly countries, i.e., Pakistan and Azerbaijan, will be finalised soon. According to them, the deal for JF-17 Block-III fighter jets was signed for $US1.6 billion, including aircraft, training, and ammunition,” he said.

As for the quantity of purchased aircraft, Dr. Mehmood ul Hassan Khan noted that, according to reliable sources from national media and defence organisations, Pakistan will sell the latest 4.5-generation JF-17 Thunder aircraft to Azerbaijan. The sale of JF-17 Thunder Block 3 aircraft is the largest defence export deal in Pakistan’s history.

“Moreover, the sources confirmed that Pakistan will initially supply 8 JF-17 Thunder Block-III fighter jets to Azerbaijan, after the initial 8 planes, Azerbaijan will also buy 8 more jets from Pakistan.

Its deal will include packages of weapons and training with the planes. Apart from this, Azerbaijan became the third country after Myanmar and Nigeria to purchase JF-17 Thunders from Pakistan,” the expert noted.

Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan pointed out that the JF-17 Thunder Block-III fighter jets are equipped with the latest avionics and electronic warfare systems according to contemporary requirements, with a wider combat range, and more combat capabilities than the other competitor’s incomparable super manoeuvrability.

He underlined that critical analysis reveals that the JF-17 Thunder is a medium-sized multi-role fighter plane designed jointly by China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) to fulfill the Pakistan Air Force’s airpower requirements.

“Additionally, the JF-17 Block-III is armed with PL-10E short-range air-to-air missiles. It has a wide-angle holographic head-up display and a new imaging infrared (IIR)-based missile approach warning system, which has further enhanced its compatibility and widened its fighting and combat weaponry.

With the PL-10, the JF-17 Block-III has gained tremendous dogfight capability and has an edge even against its heavier opposing counterparts in homeland air defence. It is smarter and faster with the speed of Mach 2, almost 2470 km/h. The JF-17 Block-III’s has state-of-the-art avionics,” he said.

As is known, the region countries where Azerbaijan is located predominantly have Russian MIG and SU planes and US Falcon (F14 and F16) aircraft. Can Pakistani JF-17C Block-III compete with Falcons, MIG, and SU? Pakistan’s star-fighter, the JF-17 Thunder Block II, is now rated equal to the F-16 in its diversified capabilities of aerial warfare and weapon-carrying capacity. According to regional experts, the JF-17 Block-II operational altitude is quite high, and it has far superior ship-busting capabilities due to the munitions it carries.

“It seems that the JF-17 Block III has changed the dynamics of aerial supremacy in the region and beyond, which has further consolidated Pakistan’s Air Force capabilities. It is indeed superior to even F-16 C.

It has a full glass cockpit and a new single-panel multifunctional display. It may have British or Italian avionics and radars. It may include Italian Galileo Avionica’s Grifo S7, French Thomson-CSF’s RC400, and British company SELEX Galileo’s Vixen 500E,” he noted.

Hassan Khan noted that it is also less prone to jamming and leaves a far lower radar signature meaning it is both more reliable and makes the fighter more difficult to detect. Its state-of-the-art Chinese electronic warfare systems, a radar cross-section reducing profile, a combination of modern avionics, and AESA radar, and PL-15 missiles will make the JF-17 Block-III an extremely lethal fighter for beyond visual range combat considerably more capable than any fighter currently in Pakistani service, including the F-16 C.

“Azerbaijan has shown interest in Pakistan/Chinese JF-17 Thunder Block III fighter jets, and the two countries have reportedly been in talks over the aircraft for the past decade.

In May 2003, Azerbaijan and Pakistan signed a defence agreement that allowed Azerbaijani military personnel, particularly Special Forces units, to participate in annual military drills alongside Pakistani armed forces.

As part of the agreement, Azerbaijani naval personnel took part in the largest Pakistani-led multinational exercise, AMAN-2013, which took place in the Arabian Sea in March 2013,” Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan concluded.

About Fidan Abdullayeva