China's fighters shine at international show

08:00, July 21, 2010      

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A JF-17 of the Pakistani Air Force lands at Farnborough airport in Farnborough, southern England before the 2010 Farnborough International Airshow. (Xinhua Photo)

Some even say the JF-17 Thunder fighters were a major attraction of the Farnborough International Airshow, which ended here on Sunday.

"For me, they are the stars of Farnborough," said Piotr Abraszek, aviation editor of Warsaw-based magazine Nowa Technika Wojskowa, who said he had been following reports of the JF-17 for several years.
Also interested in the fighter was a Japanese air attache at the country's embassy here in London.

What interests him most about the aircraft?

"Quality and capability. And how it compares with other Asian aircraft," he responded.

The aircraft has been in development in one form or another since 1991. After several design concepts and name changes, it emerged in its present form.

Since acquiring the first two from China in July 2007, the Pakistani Air Force is now equipped with 14 JF-17s. It has now started its own assembly line, which saw the first aircraft roll out in November 2009.

Despite the early morning hour at the air show, and the fact the planes sit in a corner of the local airport where they are one display, dozens of people have already made their way to see the "mysterious" aircraft from Asia, even when their full-glass cockpits are still covered by canvas.

The two on display here were assembled in Pakistan, said Ali Saeed, the chief of the JF-17 engineering office of the PAF, which according to previous reports has requested as many as 250 of the aircraft from China.

Powered by a Russia-built Kilmov RD-93 engine, the JF-17, according to Saeed, is presently the best plane of the PAF.

For Major Azkaar Ul-Husnain, who had also flown other fighters like the F-6 and F-16, the JF-17 is like his best friend.

He's been flying them since early 2008, and took to the skies again to bring one to the air show.

"It is quite useful. And it's a very important part of the PAF," he said, noting the plane will eventually replace its present fleet of F-7s, A-5s and Mirages.

"We hope in the future 80 percent of the air force will be JF-17," Ul-Husnain said.
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(Editor:梁军)

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