Iraq will not be engaging Pakistan in the purchase of JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, the Iraqi Air Force has stated.
According to sources for the Iraqi Air Force, there are currently no plans, negotiations, discussions, and certainly no agreement to purchase such a platform.
The sources added that this was an old story during the tenure of previous Minister of Defence Juma Inad whose tenure ended on October 27, 2022.
“The Minister of Defence Thabit Al Abassi did not and will not engage Pakistan for the purchase of the JF-17,” said a source from the Iraqi Air Force on condition of anonymity.
Pakistani sources said last week that the Iraqi government has approved an outlay of $664 million for the purchase of 12 JF-17 Thunder Block III fighter jets from Pakistan.
It was reported that Iraq had signed a contract with a Pakistani company to purchase an unspecified number of aircraft, believed to be JF-17 Block III, and that the negotiations for the sale of the jets continued for more than two years.
The JF-17 Thunder 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. It is designed to be cost-effective and can perform a variety of missions, including air-to-air combat, ground attack, and reconnaissance.
The JF-17 has a length of 14.93 meters, a wingspan of 9.45 meters, and a height of 4.77 meters. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 12,700 kg and can carry a variety of weapons, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, bombs, and rockets. The aircraft is powered by a single Russian RD-93 turbofan engine, which provides a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 and a combat radius of 1,350 km.
The JF-17 is considered to be a cost-effective aircraft, with a unit cost estimated to be around $25-30 million. This makes it an attractive option for countries with limited defense budgets. In addition, the JF-17 has a low maintenance cost, which further adds to its cost-effectiveness.
The JF-17 has demonstrated its combat capability in various exercises and operations. It has been used by the Pakistan Air Force in counter-terrorism operations and has also participated in international airshows. The aircraft has been praised for its agility, ease of maintenance, and reliability.
However, some experts have raised concerns about the JF-17’s avionics and weapons systems, which may not be as advanced as those of other modern fighter aircraft.
The latest model, the JF-17 Block III, has been snapped up by Malaysia, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, and Myanmar, with Argentina also showing interest in the past.