Pakistan is an all weather ally of China. In the early fifties, Pakistan joined the US sponsored defense pacts against communism. It opened up to China in the seventies as it had frosty relations with India and Pakistan followed the dictum 'enemy's enemy is my friend'. China also found Pakistan a reliable ally against the Indo-US strategic cooperation.

Developing the JF-17 Thunder

The two countries joined hands to develop a 4th generation multifunction fighter which was cost effective. The Pakistan Aeronautical Center and Chinese aircraft research center at Chengdu joined hands and produced the JF-17 also called the Thunder. The plane is a heavily borrowed design of the Russian SU-27 but in terms of performance lags behind.

One can gauge its success from the fact that though the plane is inducted into the PAF, it has not been ordered by the Peoples Army Airforce.

The PAF itself has doubts as it is scouting to buy the SU-34. This has gained an urgency after the tap of American warplanes was turned off as the US felt Pakistan was playing a double game against US interests in Afghanistan.The latest news is that F-16 which were to be supplied to Pakistan have been deferred.

The JF-17 does not compare favorably with the latest 4th and 5th generation fighter planes. Even the aircraft's chief designer Yang Wei has admitted that the aircraft has limited potential export market He feels the aircraft cannot compete with the other similar planes in the market. 

The plane also is not cost effective and does not serve the purpose of a saving in costs.

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The quoted price of a JF-17 unit is $28 million. This is half the price of an F-16 but the JF-17 is a far less capable fighter. Its radar is primitive and allows the aircraft to engage only 2 targets at the same time.

How good is JF-15?

The aircraft made an appearance at the Paris Air Show and only 2 nations Sr Lanka and Burma expressed any interest in the plane. The Chinese also have not placed any orders. The plane uses a Russian clone engine and a Chinese radar  and has been put together in Pakistan. The warplane does not match the capability of the Tejas, the Indian latest generation fighter and way behind the top drawer aircraft like the S-35 and F-22.