Thunder to strike for Iraq

Iraq is said to have concluded a deal to purchase 12 JF-17 combat aircraft from Pakistan.

The JF-17 Thunder bound for Iraq (Image  Alan Warnes)

According to the News International newspaper in Pakistan the order is the culmination of two years of negotiation. The contract value is believed  to be worth around $650million.

The Block III Thunder fighters are manufactured by a joint venture entity between Pakistan and China. The type is already with Malaysia, Nigeria and Myanamar.

Iraq is expected to use the JF-17 Thunders to replace the ageing F-16 fleet bought by Iraq from the US and now non-operational due to deterioration and lack of training capability. According to sources in-country there has been a lack of availability of spares to adequately maintain the aircraft.

The lower cost of operation of the JF-17 makes it more manageable for the Iraq defence . It can carry a variety of weapons, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, bombs, and rockets. and is powered by a single Russian RD-93 turbofan engine, which provides a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 and a combat radius of 1,350 km.