According to Pakistani media reports, Iraq has expressed intent to buy 12 JF-17 multi-role combat jets from Pakistan. The fourth-generation multi-role combat aircraft has been jointly developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex(PAC) and the Chengdu Aerospace Corporation(CAC) of China. The production of the aircraft components is divided between the two countries, whereas the final assembly of the jet takes place in Pakistan.
Reports suggest that the deal was agreed upon during the visit of a high-level Iraqi defence delegation to Pakistan and that it will be formalised in the month of October. The delegation was reportedly led by the Deputy Commander of the Iraqi Air Force, Major General(Pilot) Muhammad Majeed Mahdi Mahmood.
The Iraqi government is claimed to have set aside around $600 million for the deal. The media reports also claim that Iraq is interested in purchasing the Block 3 version of the aircraft which is equipped with the latest upgrades like improved radar and avionics, along with an enhanced engine.
Earlier Argentina also reached a deal with Pakistan to buy a similar number of the JF-17s, but the deal fell through under pressure from the UK. The combat aircraft is also under consideration by the Malaysian Air Force which is looking to induct Light Combat Aircraft (LCAs) into its fleet.
The JF-17 combat aircraft has mainly seen action in North Waziristan during anti-terror operations by Pakistan. Pakistan also claims that it was a JF-17 that shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s MiG-21 in 2019.