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ISLAMABAD (PTI): Pakistan on Thursday inducted 16 new multi-role JF-17 Thunder jets jointly manufactured with China to its air force with the Defence Minister asserting that the country was ready to safeguard borders against any aggression.
The JF-17 Thunder jets were handed over to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, in Attock area of Punjab province, with Defence Minister Khawaja Asif present as the chief guest.
The new home-made jets, inducted into 14-Squadron of Pakistan Air Force, have been manufactured jointly by China and Pakistan.
The JF-17 Thunder is the backbone of PAF and already more than 70 fighters of the category are part of it.
Asif, while speaking on the occasion, said the government was committed to fund the PAF's operational readiness especial its JF-17 programme in the future as well.
The Defence Minister said Pakistan is a peace-loving country and wishes to maintain peaceful relations with international community especially with neighbours.
However, he said, the government stands determined to safeguard Pakistan's national interests and borders against any aggression.
The minister lauded the role the PAF has played in the anti-terror operation Zarb-e-Azb.
This has not only brought peace and normalcy to the country but also put Pakistan's economy on a fast-track, he said.
Asif thanked China for its support in the co-production of JF-17 Thunder aircraft.
In his address, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman said JF-17 fighter jets have the capability comparable to any advanced fourth generation aircraft across the world.
Development on the aircraft started in 1999, and the maiden flight was conducted in 2003.
According to details, while the first block of JF-17's were manufactured and delivered in 2007, the second block manufacturing which started in 2013 has delivered a more advanced fighter jet with upgraded avionics, air-to-air refuelling capability, data link, enhanced electronic warfare capability and enhanced load carrying ability.
The JF-17 can be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground ordinance.
The aircraft mounts both short-range infra-red air-to-air missiles along with longer ranged radar-guided beyond visual range (BVR) missiles, an essential capability for a frontline interceptor.
The JF-17 also enhances the capability of the air force in beyond visual range (BVR) engagements.
The PAF has said between 250 and 300 aircraft will be inducted into the air force to replace ageing fleets.