On July 27, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has inked a contract to sell 10 Super Mushshak trainers to Azerbaijan.
State-owned Radio Pakistan reports that the agreement was signed by PAC Chairman Air Marshal Arshad Malik and Azerbaijani Air and Air Defence Force (or Azeri Air Force) Commander Lt. Gen. Ramiz Tahirov.
This is PAC’s second Super Mushshak order in 2017, following a 52-plane order from Turkey for replacing the Turkish Air Force’s SF-260s. PAC inked a contract with the Turkish government in May.
In 2016, PAC secured Super Mushshak orders of eight and 10 aircraft from Qatar and Nigeria, respectively. The company began delivering aircraft to both countries in July.
The Super Mushshak is an upgraded PAC-built derivative of the Saab MFI-17 Supporter. When the MFI-17’s original manufacturer Malmö Flygindustri ceased production of the aircraft in 1982, PAC undertook the role of manufacturing the platform under the designation Mushshak (Proficient) in 1983.
In 2002, PAC unveiled the Super Mushshak, an improved variant comprising of a glass cockpit as well as Lycoming IO 540-V4A5 260 hp engine. PAC is also configuring the Super Mushshak with an electro-optical sensor pod and guided air-to-ground munitions, pitching the platform as a light attack platform.
In late 2016, Baku and Islamabad committed to enhancing bilateral defence relations, especially in joint-defence production. PAC is eager to sell JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighters to the Azeri Air Force, which reportedly rekindled its interest in the platform in November.
Notes & Comments:
Although the JF-17 is PAC’s marquee product, the Super Mushshak has had a spate of commercial success in 2016 and 2017, accruing cumulative orders of 80 aircraft from four countries. Some of these purchases can expand with follow-on orders, which could potentially push the current production past 100.
However, a JF-17 sale to Baku would be a significant breakthrough for PAC. Currently, the JF-17 has foreign orders from Myanmar (16) and Nigeria (three).
The Azeri Air Force’s aging Su-25 and MiG-21 fleet would likely be PAC’s target for pitching the JF-17, which could fulfill the air defence and ground-attack roles of both legacy Russian platforms. The Azeri Air Force could look at the JF-17 Block-II, which can deploy short and medium-range air-to-air missiles, anti-ship missiles and stand-off range glide bombs, or the forthcoming JF-17 Block-III, which will be equipped with an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar among other new subsystems.