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Is Sri Lanka looking to buy JF-17s from Pakistan?
August 20, 2017
A JF-17 model with the SLAF roundel in the background of the SLAF Air Chief's office.

Is Sri Lanka looking to buy JF-17s from Pakistan?

13 December 2015

By Bilal Khan

Last week an article emerged on Ceylon Today outlining not only a possible sale of 10 JF-17s to the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), but additional news about mounting Indian objections against the deal.

This news is interesting on multiple levels. For one thing, it lends fuel to a long speculated but unconfirmed engagement between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in regards to the JF-17. There have been some possible indicators, such as a model of a JF-17 with SLAF roundels, but nothing in the way of actual credence. Granted, Gagani Weerakoon’s piece does not provide official confirmation, but the details enclosed in her piece line up with the reality of the matter quite well, and as a result, the issue is worth discussing.

China and Pakistan secured their first export customer for the JF-17 in 2015. The buyer was not disclosed, but it is widely believed that to be Myanmar. A sale to Sri Lanka would make the JF-17 a primary combat aircraft in South Asia, and that idea may help generate additional leads in other parts of the world. But there is another aspect to this news as well, and that is India’s purported displeasure at Sri Lanka’s rumoured purchase of JF-17s from Pakistan (though in reality it would be China and Pakistan).

According to Weerakoon, India was willing to offer a line-of-credit to Sri Lanka on the condition that it buy fighters “from any country other than Pakistan.” In response, Pakistan offered 10 (likely surplus) F-7Ps atop of the JF-17s should the Sri Lankan government ultimately stick with the Thunder. The deal was slated to be officially announced during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Colombo this coming January. With Delhi’s apparent anxiety in mind, Colombo is now looking to tie the JF-17 decision to other policy matters, such as having India’s explicit blessing to permitting Chinese investors join a major urban development program in Sri Lanka.

If the above is indeed panning out as described, then it may be worth looking at what each actor stands to gain and lose from this deal. Starting with Sri Lanka, it seems the SLAF has managed to secure for itself a fairly decent fighter modernization route, JF-17 or otherwise. If it acquires the JF-17, then it will have access to a modern fighter platform capable of engaging in precision-strike and air defence roles at beyond and within visual range (BVR and WVR respectively). If it instead decides to opt for India’s option for a line-of-credit for ‘anything but JF-17’, then it could theoretically acquire a directly comparable platform in the form of the Korean Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin FA-50.

It is unlikely India particularly cares about such capabilities making their way to Sri Lanka, especially since it was apparently willing to even arrange a financing plan for the SLAF. The technology in question, e.g. precision-guided munitions or even BVR air-to-air missiles, are increasingly becoming common and well distributed on the global defence market. If not the U.S, Russia or Europe, then Sri Lanka could potentially acquire the aforementioned systems from the likes of China, Israel, South Africa and Brazil.

The real problem for India is evidently the prospect of Pakistan being involved, especially in as significant a role as the leading vendor (which would obviously be the case if it secures a JF-17 sale). Theoretically a JF-17 sale to Sri Lanka would enable Pakistan to have a relatively well-entrenched presence in Sri Lanka in the form of personnel (who would assist in training and integration). The sale could potentially even manifest in stronger forms of cooperation between the armed forces of Sri Lanka and Pakistan, seeing the former send more officers to the latter for education and/or liaison work.

However, to be frank, even if the aforementioned events were to occur, it does not necessarily mean that Pakistan is extending itself in the region. One of the primary plus-points trumpeted with the JF-17 is the promise of not tying the buyer into wider political machinations, so Pakistan reneging on that (especially given the state of its economy and foreign relations influence generally) is incredibly unlikely. That said, the development of requisite maintenance infrastructure (for the JF-17) in Sri Lanka would enable the PAF and SLAF to engage more frequently in the form of exercises; the mere image or perception of wider regional ‘flexing’ has its own value after all.

In summary, the issue is a bit bigger than it deserves to be, especially for 10 fighters. That said, should the SLAF ultimately decide to stick with the JF-17, then it has a lot of interesting options in the way of air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions from China, especially in terms of the latter, which even include extended-range munitions such as the GB6 stand-off weapon (SOW) and C-802A anti-ship missile (AShM). More broadly, it will be interesting to see if and how the SLAF transitions to a more network-centric force across the board, be it aircraft, land-based sensors and ships.

  • blabla bla

    @saqrkh
    Seems Pakistan is doing good in keeping its foot print in Srilanka 🙂 . Next step should be Naval cooperation and with special forces

  • MT

    Very difficult for Lanka to buy it. As author rightly points outs its geo-politics and presence of Pak ISI defence attache that is the main concern for India.

    • Muhammad Shahid

      Agree with you. SAARC countries are very weak compare to india and they can’t take any stand against india on their own behalf. But if China give SL some courage, then they can be firm – still chances are limited
      I have some other concerns as well: that if SLAF could not handle JF-17 and if ours even 1 plane got crashed by any SL pilot, it will give our project a bad name world wide (Just like indian copters crashed by some south american country and they grounded others). I think we should 1st improve our quality to best level then to market it.

      • jigsaww

        Hi,

        JF-17 deal with Srilanka will happen. Srilanka has a long standing defence cooperation with both Pakistan and China. India has nothing to offer to Srilanka, except empty promises and political gamble. There are political reasons for this as well as technical. There is no other aircraft at this point that SL can buy and operate with the freeness and cost that JF-17 provides. India has been trying to buy off SL with promises of LCA, a plane that is on verge of being scrapped entirely as many other indian projects.

        The only thing that india will achieve here is prolonging the JF-17 acquisition. Otherwise, a deal with SL would already have been announced at paris air show, but SL will keep coming back to JF-17, simply because there really isn’t anything substantial that india can offer in place of JF-17 to SL.

        As for india dhruv that crashed in Ecuador, the reason is simple. It is a made in india product. And that speaks enough for itself. IAF is one of the airforce with highest crash rates in the world, and that include SU-30s.

        JF-17 deal will accompany PAF crew and training program to ready SLAF fly these birds. PAF would never accept JF-17 on below aviation standards. PAF is an airforce that undoubtedly sets highest aviation standards and JF-17 sees that. It has been in service since 2007 and it has a great track record. PAF personnel will be stationed in SL to make sure that this works out.

        You should also look out for JF-17 deal with egypt. It is in the works. This jet will definitely see deals and it will become the most successful fighter China has undertaken, only because PAC has been part of it.

        • MT

          1. JF-17 is a joint venture with zero contribution from pak. So dont take pride in chinese aircraft.

          India tejas program is not scrapped. the orders for plane have increased from 40 to 120. MKIA will come around block III and they will be far superior figther with higher thrust,better AESA radar, Derby ER BVR misisiles

          2.

          Pak has habit of using ISI to sponsor anti indian operations from Dhakha.
          Recently a gang of 10 agents including Pakistani high commission offcial in dhakha was busted who was using jammat islamists to push spy and counterfeit notes in india. A Pak spy from islamabad was nabbed in india who had entered illegally via dhakha

          Why will India allow Pak to start the same business from lanka which is very near to south india.

          India have tamil supporters in lanka. So Lankans will think 2 times before buying it. They wont want jaffna to boil in north

          3. Russian jet have bad track record. check russian air force crash in last 1yr. India have lost 6 Su30 in 18 yrs

          4. Dhruv had problems with rotor in initial versions. Crash is mainly bcoz of problems with HAL parts. Dhruv MKIII,MKIV are highly reliable helicopter with zero crash.
          New Dhruv versions use non HAL parts made in private sector

          • saqrkh

            I don’t think a fighter sale would necessarily result in a bigger ISI presence than what is already achievable (or unachievable). India can certainly see it that way, but Pakistan’s bandwidth for wiring an entirely new region against India is extremely thin in areas where it has practically zero native linkages.

          • MT

            1. Malaysia had arrested terrorists who had link with Pak embassy in lanka. The official in embassy was asked to leave ( a year old news).
            Pak have been using lankan assets: muslims & some tamils in lanka to spy around andaman nicobar islands
            Pak have good assets in dhaka.They use porous border in nepal and bd border with links to jammat to push their assets(fake notes, people). Some Indian muslims & few hindus have also been caught

            Detailed news : India and Sri Lanka to fight ISI influence
            March 29, 2015 07:36 am

            2. Jf-17 sale will make Lanka dependent on Pak. Lanka used Indian radars and their system is linked with India. India is not concerned about equipment. It just doesnt want presence of your spy agencies.

            India is not having any problem with china selling weapons to its neighbors but Pak is not a fair player in region. India, china and other big countries use economic and political diplomacy to achieve their objective. Pak hasn’t at all matured as a nation
            May be it doesnt care for its reputation in region as it has nothing to lose.

            I doubt if India will support purchase of weapons to lanka. They can instead buy Indian make Su30, Mig29 or Tejas at highly discounted price

          • Guest

            Thanks for all the Bullshit.

            India does All that you’ve mentioned against All of its neighbors. Difference is, the poor fellows cant do a thing about it and have to tolerate the Bully, except Pakistan who can almost give a tit for tat to India.

          • MT

            Pak track records is of a a suicidal country which has nothing to lose. It will always remain a security state which runs on doles and would be used by big powers for short term interests

            It has been harboring all kinds of terrorist and using terrorism as instrument of state policy which represents brand Pakistan.

            If you look at the neighboring countries then India have many more friends than Pak. To say it bluntly. Pak’s only friend in region is china.

          • Guest

            As I mentioned above, India does All that. Its a bully to its neighbors and when you talk about using terrorism as a state policy, two names and two places come to my mind Narender Modi, Ajit Doval and Kashmir, Bangladesh.

            All the terrorist rant India spreads about Pakistan is actually about the resistance it faces from Pakistan against its own horrific agendas.

            Please mention the list of friends India has in the same region except the terrorized neighbors.

            The fact is, India is the unfair player in the region. As it wants to dominate the subcontinent and possibly even reverse the partition.

          • MT

            Kashmir was land of peace till 1989. Pak flushed 40000 terrorists in valley.
            In 1993, Pak was on verge of being declared terrorist country.

            India treats all its neighbors with respect.Almost all neighbor including china is compatible with India.. India have million of tibetans who ran away from Tibet. Have you ever heard china of complaining against India for harboring tibetan resistance??

            Pakistan is the only country in SAARC which is unable to integrate with other countries. India have best relations with Iran, Saudi, Israel, Russia, US, ASEAN, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh…Even India china relations are improved in last decade

            India is very mch a status quo state while its Pak which is a revisionist security state. Why would India want Pakistan??

            Pakistan is none of our bsiness if you guys can stop interfering and bothering us.

          • jigsaww

            Kashmir is a land of piece not peace and of course we owe that to the 1 million indian occupation forces enforcing AFSPA, curfews, license to kill, search and molest Kashmir upon will, to which all indians proudly turn a blind eye. Feel free to listen what HRW and Amnesty international has to say. Dalits are also in peace in India, only that they cannot be touched or shadowed – that will just result in a crime against them, but that’s pretty peaceful too. Sikhs demand khalistan, but hey that’s also pretty peaceful – so what if they’re fed up of hindu controlled india? For that matter, indian women also need an own country in india for the rapes they’ve to undergo but thats pretty peaceful too. Beef episodes are pretty peaceful too.

            India treats its neighbors pretty much the same way indian mean treat rape-infested delhi. There’s isn’t a country that’s saved from indian bullying except pakistan that basically puts slap for a slap and china, which india doesn’t really tall up to.
            If you take out india from south asia, the result will be a much peaceful SA, since it is india that has a conflict with china, pakistan, bangladesh, burma, sri lanka , nepal, bhutan. That is your SAARC.

          • blabla bla

            @MT
            India was the one who took it to the UN . India have to give the right of plebiscite to the people of Kashmir . India has illegally occupied Kashmir with 700,000 army . People of Kashmir don’t want to live with India . Pakistan is not doing any terrorism in Kashmir even if you raped and slaughter our sisters and mothers . Than more and more people from this country will volunteer to take there revenge asshole

          • MT

            blaa.blaa.. go and read un resolution.. Pak is supposed to vacate POK and India is allowed to keep considerable presence of army.

          • jigsaww

            I have concluded that if you want to spoil a logical meaningful discussion, bring in an indian and you will see unprecedented hatred being spewed for no reason, just because he is an indian and that is a pakistani forum.

            It actually you indians that are responsible for spoiling of everything and that is evident on your forums where you ban everyone except indians and where 90% of your time is spent openly abusing pakistan and other clapping about it. That is your behaviour at individual level as well at collective national level.

            P.S: A nation that has effectively voted a criminal into power should not talk big about ethics. Trust me, it doesn’t look anything but fake, hypocritical, and amusing when these accusations come from an indian.

          • blabla bla

            @ MT
            You world biggest poverty we know your reality better you dont bother about Pakistan think about India where muslims are considered traitors and people are slaved and massacred for beef. Pakistan know what it has to do . For people like you devil Modi is enough

          • MT

            u back to silly religious polarization.
            Bla..Bla– I am an Indian muslim & I know the ground reality.

            Hindus are very peaceful but some of our muslims are creating nuisance in this country . They cant come out of old muslim ummah fever.
            I see myself as an Indian first

          • jigsaww

            You can be anyone – it simply does not matter.
            70 years ago, the people who made Pakistan and decided to break up free from hindu dominated india were ALSO INDIAN MUSLIMS – now called the pakistanis or bangladeshis and there was a very real reason for being fed up. ( not that india as a state existed then, only hindus in indian subcontinent).
            Pakistan chose its own destiny. Neither is your appreciation needed nor any certification required. Keep these trophies you are dying to distribute to yourself. Your destiny is to live your life through beef episodes. Live through that and leave Pakistan alone!.

          • MT

            I dont eat beef as I respect Indian culture. Hindus are very peaceful otherwise our numbers would not have grown by many fold in last 70 yrs.
            Not eating beef is not the end of this world. Anyway, red meet isnt healthy

            we have nothing common with Pakistan and their founder except his faith. We trusted Maulana Azad. Bengalis also trusted their leader.
            Muslims are not homogeneous group. My destiny is tied to my land.
            As a Shia, I feel much safe in India. Hindus treat us with respect.
            Pakistan should focus on internal problem and stop behaving like a thekedar of ummah

          • jigsaww

            LOL. So this is about a shia venting out his little feelings on a sunni pakistan? I don’t even need to argue any further because that is so self-explanatory and childish, what and why you have been whining all about.
            I’ll tell you something. It is not pakistanis that are fiddling in YOUR destiny or lives. It is YOU who is interfering in lives of pakistan, their thinking, their decisions- just what is your purpose to come and forcefully force your beliefs on an apparently pakistani forum? So don’t tell me. Pakistan has left behind indian subcontinent history 70 years ago. Its you indians that are not letting go off that bitter past.

            I’ll tell you another thing. Whether you like it or not. Pakistan is THE single most powerful muslim nation on earth and muslim nations look up to it for support and advice. They do not ask indians or indians muslims. This is a self earned respect pakistan has earned despite having problems. And there is nothing you puny indians can do to undo that. Pakistan is here to stay. Not only we will solve our internal problems BUT ALSO behave and become the thaykardaar of ummah if and when required. You have a problem with it? well pakistan cannot care less. You pathetic indians have only cursed, discouraged, demoralized and damaged pakistan in last 70 years. guess what…pakistan is still here and still standing…

            Go sell a kidney now.

          • jigsaww

            And please. It’s not about BEEF. It’s about freedom. It’s about a thing as insignificant as beef that is not allowed for minorities to consume whereas the india is the biggest exporter of beef in the world. Did you know that or did it just drop on your head as your biggest surprise? And then an indian will preach to pakistan about religious freedom and democratic norms…Please spare us the hypocrisy!

            The difference between an indian and pakstani citizen is that while pakistan accepts all its internal problems and recognizes them by actively refuting the ills, an indian will try to make you believe that everything is jolly good and heavenly perfect in indian by simply rejecting all signs and evidence of a problem. And now here is an indian, exactly doing that, (i mean you by the way, if you didn’t comprehend that). I can almost imagine your neighborhood and everyday life living hundreds of miles away from you and i don’t even need to see it to believe. so will you spare us the rhetoric…its been overly misused by indians.

            P:S: There is nothing such as healthy or non healthy. Only misuse of it is non healthy when taken in large quantities. Red meat has highest proportion of iron (great for women) and proteins and is highly beneficial in cold areas. Don’t use your head where it does not work by making stupid excuses.

          • MT

            India is exporter of buffaloes.

          • bla bla

            I know your the slave of Hindu .

          • blabla bla

            @MT
            your secular india need to be exposed where muslims are forced to convert to Hindu . the biggest example of intolerance is president Modi and RSS where Muslims are considered traitors and people cannot even decide what to eat on there own .I met a lot of Indian muslim they are slaves they cannot understand what is freedom and having a separate Country people like you are just the scum of Indian muslim nation shame on you

          • MT

            LOl. Those who wanted to convert wre bangladeshi muslims who wanted Indian citizenship

          • Muhammad Kamran Shaikh

            Talking about Pakistan…. how much time it took you this morning to use washroom…. “One washroom” for hundreds of you living in “kholis”
            Idiot….

          • blabla bla

            @MT
            India should stop interfering with Srilanka, Bangladesh , Nepal , Pakistan and China . Tell me one example of Economic and political diplomacy? its bullshit India ajit doval is a terrorist he is involved in the massacre of innocent kids in army public Peshawar school . Every one when Pakistan tries to bring peace in Afghanistan India sabotage it . Doing terrorism using cold star doctrine defensive offense bla bla . Devil Modi and devil Ajit doval are the best revenge for Indian democracy because of them Kashmir issue has become alive again .

          • blabla bla

            @MT
            thanks for accepting that India is using tamils in Srilanka . India did terrorism in Srilanka for more than two decades and then Pakistan helped Srilanka and this shit was eradicated . Srilanka is a strategic of Pakistan and China . Shut up Pakistan does not need India permission to do any defense deal with anyone . Shame on India for blocking oil supply of Nepal . Imagine a subcontinent even SAARC without India . Slavery should end it in India Muslims hindus and sikhs get there rights

          • jigsaww

            He is an insecure citizen of an insecure nation. That should explain his little insecurity.

          • Alan Shane

            I agree that lac Tejas is better but still it is unable to get clearance certificate…so what good is an advanced plane when it cannot be used…

      • MT

        Pak has habit of using ISI to sponsor anti indian operations from Dhakha.
        Recently a gang of 10 agents including Pakistani high commission offcial in dhakha was busted who was using jammat as spy to push spy and counterfeit notes in india.

        Why will India allow Pak to start the same business from lanka which is very near to south india. India have tamil supporters in lanka. So Lankans will think 2 times before buying it

        • Muhammad Shahid

          Source?

          • MT

            Pakistan diplomat’s links with terror groups revealed

            ==============================
            Pakistan High Commission’s Second Secretary (political) Farina Arshad is said to be involved with the Islamist radicals.

            Idris said in his confession that Babul later told him that a man arrested for peddling counterfeit Indian currency in Dhaka airport was closely linked to Farina.

            ==============================================

            A Islamabad resident was arrested in India who had infiltrated into India via bangladesh with help of jammat(hardcore islamist) & supported by Pak embassy in dhaka

            =>
            Revealed: How Pakistan ISI spy Kalam acquired full Indian identity and spied on IAF and Army installations
            =>
            Arrested ISI agent’s brother seen with Shahid Afridi and Hina Rabbani Khar

        • blabla bla

          @disqus_GfShjhCzln:disqus
          Pakistan and ISI does not have time to waste on India . In India there are more than 20 separatist movements they are enough for the division of India along with extremist hindu Modi so called RSS agent doing quiet good in increasing intolerance in India . India will eventually end up like Soviet Union where there is weapons of trillions of dollar and more than 500 million people live under poverty (World biggest poverty ).

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