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Myanmar in talks to license-build JF-17 fighter

By Ryan Maass
Myanmar in talks to license-build JF-17 fighter
Myanmar's negotiations with Pakistan follow a purchase of 16 JF-17 aircraft in 2015. Photo by Aldo Bidini/Wikimedia Commons

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The government of Myanmar is in talks with Pakistan to license-build its own variant of the JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter jet.

If an agreement with Pakistan is reached, Myanmar will be able to manufacture the single-seat aircraft initially developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China's state-owned Chengdu Aerospace Corporation.

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The talks follow Myanmar's purchase of 16 JF-17 jets in 2015, which are expected to enter service with the country's air force later this year. IHS Janes reports the planes will be of the Block II variant, which feature air-to-air refueling capabilities and improved avionics from its predecessor.

Myanmar is seeking to replace its legacy fleet of F-7M Airguard and A-5C Fantan combat aircraft procured from Beijing in the 1990s. According to Quwa, Myanmar has 24 F-7s and 16 A-5s in its fleet.

If the country's push to license-build the JF-17 is cleared, it is not known if Myanmar will manufacture the Block II variant already procured, or pursue the more advanced Block III variant first rolled out from PAC's Kamra plant in 2015.

The PAC JF-17 Thunder is a lightweight, single-seat, multi-role combat aircraft capable of deploying a diverse array of ordnance, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. The plane is also armed with a 23mm GSh-23-2 twin barrel autocannon.

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