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PAF Chief in China to discuss upgradation of JF-17 warplanes

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The JF-17 fighter. A file photo

BEIJING (PTI): Pakistan Air Force Chief on Tuesday met top Chinese defence officials as the two countries look to upgrade the jointly produced JF-17 Thunder fighter jet, amid India's move to acquire 36 Rafale warplanes from France.

PAF Chief Air Marshal Sohail Aman, who is on a five day visit to China, met Gen Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), the high command of the Chinese military.

The visit is aimed at increasing combat capabilities of JF-17 Thunder, single-engine multi-role combat aircraft jointly produced by the two countries, at par with the latest lethal and sophisticated aircraft of the world, PAF spokesman had said ahead of Sohail's visit to the communist giant.

PAF plans to acquire 200 of the JF-17 fighter jets this year.

Fan and Sohail pledged to strengthen practical cooperation in training, military equipment and anti-terrorism, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

"China and Pakistan have become 'iron friends', always trusting and supporting each other," Fan said while expressing hope that the two countries' military cooperation will contribute to regional peace and stability.

Pakistan has always placed the two countries' bilateral relationship as a top priority. Pakistan is willing to join hands with China to strengthen all-round military-to-military exchanges and cooperation, particularly in the air force, Sohail said.

Sohail hoped the two countries' military cooperation will provide a safe and secure environment for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and deepen their all-weather friendship and all-dimensional cooperation.

Pakistan relies heavily on Chinese military ware and also evinced keen interest in the new weapon systems being vigorously developed by China such as the J-31 stealth aircraft and the wide bodied Y-20 heavy military aircraft which China says is comparable to the Russian-made IL-76 and the US' C-17.

Sohail's visit comes amid India's move to acquire 36 twin-engine multi role fighter aircraft Rafale.

In March, Pakistan Naval Chief Muhammad Zakaullah had visited China during which the deal to sell eight Chinese submarines to Pakistan Navy was reportedly clinched.

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