The first JF-17 Thunder multirole combat aircraft overhauled in Pakistan was rolled out during a ceremony held on 26 September at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra. The move comes nearly 10 years after the first JF-17, which was jointly developed by China and Pakistan, rolled off the production line there.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF's) Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, said during the ceremony: "We are living in a technology-intensive world, where self-reliance and indigenisation are key to effectively addressing modern challenges. [The] PAF has been relentlessly pursuing these goals and has now achieved this remarkable capability".
Work on the JF-17 maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) project has been under way since 2017. The chief engineer of JF-17 MRO, a wing commander who did not want to be named, had told Jane's in April, "We have been overhauling Chinese aircraft for the past few decades, so we took the initiative and developed our own JF-17 overhaul facility here in the Aircraft Repair Factory [ARF]."
"We developed the overhaul package, but to have it validated by the Chinese we sent two, effectively pattern aircraft to Changsha, in China during 2017," he added. Changsha is the 5712 Aircraft Industry Co., which operates under state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
Around the same time, the ARF started working on two JF-17s, in tandem with the two aircraft in China, with the wing commander stressing that "we carried out all the work here ourselves using our own procedures".
The two jets overhauled in China were back at PAC Kamra by April, when the ARF was working on a third aircraft. There are plans for five more aircraft to be overhauled at the factory in 2019, and a new hangar currently under construction will open next year, allowing 20 aircraft to be overhauled in 2020.
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