The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on Wednesday rolled out its indigenously built 50th JF-17 Thunder aircraft which has a top speed of Mach 1.6 and is dubbed as the backbone of the country’s air defence.

At the induction ceremony at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said it marked a milestone in the history of the country’s aviation industry.

The project with Chinese collaboration was launched when he was Prime Minister in 1998 and the first fighter aircraft was ready in 2009. The light weight single engine multi-role combat aircraft has missile and bomb capability and an avionics system. Air force officials said that the aircraft was cost effective and offered a competitive edge to Western fighter planes.

On the occasion, China and Pakistan signed a joint sales and marketing agreement..

Key collaboration

China is collaborating with Pakistan on a number of projects including Gwadar Port, Chashma Power Project, Karakoram Highway, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and more recently the Karachi Civil Nuclear Power Plant.