(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - June 25, 2014: The Government of Myanmar is planning to acquire technologies from China and Pakistan to build JF-17 multirole combat aircraft at its own aircraft factory to boost its Air Force.
If JF-17 production is carried out in Myanmar it may induce an arms race with neighbouring countries who would in turn acquire sufficient air defence capabilities of their own. The Royal Thai Air Force already operates 12 Saab JAS 39C/D Gripen’s whilst the Bangladesh Air Force is planning to acquire combat aircraft from China and Russia.
At present the Myanmar Air Force is composed of 23,000 personnel. It is primarily responsible for the air defence of Myanmar and counter insurgency operations in support of the ground forces.
There are 10 operational air bases in Myanmar where its inventory of up to 32 MiG-29B and MiG-29SE’s are stationed along with 25 older F-7M, 21 Nanchang A-5C and a mix of 16 Chinese and Serbian jet trainers used for ground attack roles besides providing pilot training. The air force is also equipped with 9 Mi-35 attack helicopters over 90 transport and utility helicopters. In recent times it acquired Chinese 11 Sky 02A UAV’s to perform basic surveillance missions. Another 24 has been built in-country as Yellow Cat A2. The fixed wing transportation fleet consists of 4 Shaanxi Y-8, 2 Fokker F-27, 2 ATR-72, 2 Harbin Y-12 and 5 Pilatus PC-6. Maritime surveillance is conducted by 5 unarmed Britten-Norman Islander aircraft transferred by India.
The force is plagued by serviceability issues due to lack of spare parts and trained manpower however introduction of JF-17 would mean that Myanmar Air Force will be investing in such areas to mitigate its short comings.
Author Tony David from Jane’s notes that “In both new fixed-wing and rotary-wing capabilities, regional analysts note that a lack of pilot experience and weaknesses in maintenance and ground-to-air links still limit the operational effectiveness of the [Myanmar Air Force],”
The JF-17 is a light weight single engine multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by China and Pakistan. It can be armed with a variety of bombs and missiles including PL-5EII, PL-9C and PL-12 AAMs, C-802A anti-ship missiles, general purpose bombs, laser guided munitions and countermeasures on its 7 hard points (four underwing, 2 wingtip, 1 under fuselage). The aircraft’s standard set of armaments are supplemented by a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin barrel cannon or 30 mm version of the same.
The avionics suite includes DEEC electronic warfare suite, NRIET KLJ-7 multi-mode fire control radar, night vision goggles compatible with glass cockpit, helmet mounted sights (HMS) and externally mounted pods such as KG-300G self-protection radar jamming pod and WMD-7 day/night targeting pod.
A Russian RD-93 powers the JF-17 to a maximum speed of Mach 1.6. The combat radius of the aircraft is 1,352 km, ferry range being 3,482 km and service ceiling 16,920 m. The thrust to weight ratio on the aircraft is 0.95. Its maximum takeoff weight is 12,383 kg.
The standard export price for the JF-17 Block I is $20 million and Block 2 being $25 million.
Pakistan Air Force is the lone operator of the JF-17 with 54 aircraft operational including 6 prototypes.
The JF-17 was offered to the Bangladesh Air Force on numerous occasions but it was declined in favour of more sophisticated multi-role combat aircraft from China and Russia.
*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources
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