Pakistan inducted the new Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 52+ fighters in their Air Force, while in the mean time the next two full-strength squadrons of Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 Thunders are close to becoming fully functional.
According to the service, the 17 F-16 Block 52+ fighters were inducted into the 5th Squadron on March 11. The final aircraft of the 18-unit deal is still being tested in the USA and is scheduled to arrive some time next month.
The new batch of the aircraft features 12 single-seat C-model versions and six two-sweat F-16Ds. The air force also states that it is negotiating with the USA for additional Block 52+ fighters due to a point in the contract which contained an option for extra 18 aircraft.
The new F-16s are being powered by Pratt & Whitney F100-229 engines. One of the other systems implemented in the F16 is Northrop Grumman’s mechanically scanned APG-68(V)9 radar and ITT’s ALQ-211(V)9 advanced integrated defensive electronic warfare suite.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency also offered a weapons package which included 500 Raytheon AIM-120C5 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, 200 short-range AIM-9M-8/9 Sidewinders, 1600 enhanced GBU-12/24 laser-guided bombs, 500 Boeing joint direct attack munitions and 700 BLU-109 penetrator bombs.
There is also a mid-life upgrade scheduled for the 34 F-16A/B Block 15 aircraft. Some of the fighters will be upgraded in Turkey, while others in Pakistan. The project is most likely to be completed by 2012.
Zeng Wen, vice-president of the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) stated at Air Show China, that Pakistan had 50 firm orders for the JF-17, but in the end they could buy up to 200.
The JF-17s will be used to replace fighters like the Dassault Mirage III, Mirage 5, Nanchang A-5 and the Chengdu F-7. All A-5s will be decommissioned in early April.
China and Pakistan have been known to cooperate on the development of the JF-17. Pakistan began the assembling in 2009 and can implement Western avionics, radars and various other systems in the JF-17 by 2012.