30 Juni 2015
Pakistan JF-17 Thunder (photo : defence.pk)
Myanmar could become the first overseas buyer of the JF-17 Thunder or FC-1 Xiaolong multirole fighter jointly developed by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group of China, according to China's official newswire Xinhua on June 28.
Li Yuhai, the deputy general manager of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said three Thunder fighters from the Pakistan Air Force were displayed at the Paris Air Show between June 15-21. A number of countries including Myanmar, Bangladesh, Argentina, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and the Philippines reportedly expressed interest in purchasing the fighter from Pakistan.
Air Commodore Syed Muhammad Ali, spokesperson for the Pakistan Air Force told Agence France-Presse that one of the aforementioned nations had made a final decision to buy the fighter. An earlier report from Pakistan's 92 News had said Sri Lanka had already singed a contract to become the first overseas buyer of the plane. Wing Commander Gihan Seneviratne, spokesperson for the Sri Lankan air force, told Xinhua on June 22 however that his nation had not yet reached any deal with Pakistan for the fighters.
The Washington DC-based Defense News said the mystery nation is likely to be Myanmar because the head of the country's air force, General Khin Aung Myint, was in Pakistan at the end of May for a four-day visit where he visited various bases and installations though very little was said about his trip at the time.
Myanmar has a long tradition of operating Chinese military aircraft. It currently has 48 A-5C attackers, 52 F-7M fighters and four Y-8 cargo planes.