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Myanmar reportedly in talks to license-produce JF-17

Myanmar is currently negotiating for the local licensed production of JF-17 Thunder lightweight multi-role fighters, IHS Jane’s reports.

In July 2015, Myanmar became the first third-party customer of the JF-17, which is co-produced by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG), with an order of 16 JF-17 Block-II fighters. As of January 2017, PAC produced more than 30 JF-17 Block-IIs.

IHS Jane’s learned that Myanmar is interested in producing the JF-17 Block-III, which is envisaged to be equipped with an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S) system, and potentially infrared search and track (IRST) system.

Notes & Comments:

Specifics, such as the number of additional JF-17s, the sub-systems, extent of local production (e.g. parts manufacturing or assembly), or the desired timeline for initiating production, are not known.

The Block-III is the JF-17’s first major iterative update and the nature of its subsystems are beginning to be understood. During Air Show China 2016, Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET) unveiled its KLJ-7A AESA radar, which is reportedly capable of tracking 15 targets and engaging 4 at once. The Chinese industry is also offering a diverse range of munitions, especially guided air-to-ground bombs and missiles, for its export fighters, such as the JF-17.

As per Flight Global’s World Air Forces (2016), Myanmar has 16 A-5s and 24 F-7s. Assuming a 1:1 replacement ratio with the JF-17, the Myanmar Air Force could procure roughly 24 JF-17 Block-IIIs. This is generally too small a number for feasible domestic manufacturing, though local assembly is plausible.

One could see Myanmar pursue domestic capacity for integration purposes (i.e. to select subsystems from sources that are inaccessible to Pakistan) more so than actual manufacturing. For example, the Myanmar Air Force could theoretically seek subsystems from Israel, which is one of its leading defence suppliers. Elbit’s Targo HMD/S and Rafael’s munitions, electronic warfare and electronic countermeasures systems could also be strong candidates for a Myanmar JF-17 Block-III.

If brought to fruition, this could be a significant sale for PAC and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which have been jointly marketing the JF-17 to many prospective third-party buyers. They secured a sale of three fighters to Nigeria in 2016 and are aiming to close a sale to Azerbaijan. These negotiations with Myanmar would mean that the sale of a substantial number of JF-17s are on the line in 2017.

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  • by Shaheer Anjum
    Posted February 1, 2017 11:27 pm 0Likes

    As much as I hope for success for the jf17 sales, I have serious moral discomfort when it comes to sales to Burma in light of the Rohingya situation.

  • by Saad Nazir
    Posted February 2, 2017 1:22 am 0Likes

    Same here first thought that came into my mind was why sale them to Burma. How are we different from USA then they also sell weapons to Israel. Even though Pakistan’s sale would be alot less as compared but that doesnt make it any different.

  • by Rahul Takalkar
    Posted February 2, 2017 1:25 am 0Likes

    that is a good news for India. Indian should fund at least 2 specimens for inspection and evaluation. Myanmar is our buddy and india has good access to their defense forces..

  • by Smoking a Tejas
    Posted February 2, 2017 2:04 am 0Likes

    it doesn’t work that way my friend. Guarantees are in place to ensure no thorough ‘inspections’ take place. Furthermore, all avionics and electronic suites have some form of protection (Physical and electronic) to discourage such efforts. It may well also see an agreement for presence of a contingent of Chinese or Pakistani personnel on site at all times.

  • by Joseph Tan
    Posted February 2, 2017 3:08 am 0Likes

    Unlikely. JF-17 is a joint production 50:50 between China and Pakistan. Pakistan too had to obtain China’s consent.

  • by Shaheer Anjum
    Posted February 2, 2017 3:09 am 0Likes

    Leaving aside all moral qualms, I recall the recent article on QUWA January 9th of this year on how the thunder was pitched unsuccessfully to the Argentinians, who opted for upgrades to their Kfir platforms in lieu of the CAC/PAC option because of political unavailability of anti shipping weapons from China. This article mentions Myanmar’s access to Israeli electronics and weapons, while the other article explicitly addressed the same availability and successful negotiations conducted between Israel and Argentina without mentioning any anti shipping weapons of Israeli origin. Are we to believe that the open architecture on the Thunder supposedly capable of integrating Chinese or Western munitions is unable to integrate Argentine Exocets? It seems like more of a poor job of negotiations when looking at the Argentine situation, whereas a nation such as Myanmar, apparently at least, lagging behind Argentina in both fiscal and technological terms, is purportedly in terminal negotiations for ToT and in house integration of Israeli electronic suites and weapons.

  • by Bilal Khan
    Posted February 2, 2017 3:22 am 0Likes

    The issue appears to be a lack of suppliers willing to supply anti-ship missiles to Argentina. I only did a cursory look at it, but I couldn’t find any mention of Israel agreeing to supply Argentina with the Gabriel AShM.

  • by Arfaq Tanoli
    Posted February 2, 2017 4:04 am 0Likes

    Its 58:42, 58 is Pakistani.

  • by Superior Shakeel
    Posted February 2, 2017 4:52 am 0Likes

    we should not sell to myanmar they have been nothing but horrible to rohingya muslims and are doing a genocide with everyone looking the other way and their radical buddhist military has full backing of china and even the west that we like to mock so much.

    we must stick to out guns and take a moral position or otherwise stop spouting off the ummah nonsense unless we can’t be muslims and show mussalam iman supporting the rohingyas is the right thing to do both at humanitarian level and religious level.

  • by Superior Shakeel
    Posted February 2, 2017 4:53 am 0Likes

    exactly we should sell them diddly squat they are going to bomb rohingyas with the jets supplied by us do we want that kind of blood on our hands for few dollars???

  • by Smoking a Tejas
    Posted February 2, 2017 5:51 am 0Likes

    And while we are at it, please note the PAF has had adequate exposure both to M2K and the SU 27 platforms, having flown and engaged through in regular and Dissimilar ACM exercises.

  • by Zafar
    Posted February 2, 2017 6:20 am 0Likes

    well with that logic, China should never had copied Su 27 from Russia or had access to the Stealth Helicopter used in OBL operation from Pakistan. the fact that Indian military experts are literally present in every defense units in Myanmar, should really alert Pakistan before selling these jets.

    dont you think that indians will do anything to evaluate these jets, they are mostly likely to face in a war against Pakistan.

  • by Smoking a Tejas
    Posted February 2, 2017 7:29 am 0Likes

    Exactly, you’ve answered half of your own question. Will Pakistan agree to the sale of these jets and at which configuration if at all? Remember both parties need to agree to the deal considering the partnership. I don’t see China reneging on the deal for a few paltry units to Myanmar.

    And the US really didn’t have a choice on the OBL operation to do much about it at the time except to instigate a full scale war.

    As far as copying the Su 27, the russians definitely must have weighed the potential risk and either thought it acceptable or didn’t take Chinese engineering acumen into consideration. Either way, Chinese clones are not the same as their Russian counterparts in the avionics, and propulsion department. Also consider that China has not supplied the marque to any country says a lot about some form of an agreement being in place.

    Finally, such agreements are in place amongst countries, Consider the conditions on pakistan for using the block 52 F 16s, you don’t think certain powers want a look at the various suites? but it’s not going to happen.

  • by bill
    Posted February 2, 2017 10:43 am 0Likes

    Rohingya issue should bee seen in historical and economic prospective as these Rohingyas were settled there mostly during colonial rule. They got govt jobs and business during British era however after independence the sectarian divides became prominent. The Burmese were mostly poor so their hatred towards colonial rulers shifted towards Rohingiya Muslims. The solution of the problem is that wealthy Muslim countries should invest in Burma to improve living standard of the entire population which will ultimately result in betterment of conditions for Rohingya.

    Further Pak shall be in better position to deal with entire situation if goes for JV with Burmese. Even the exports of the jet may be increased due to provision of another assembly line.

    However PAF should use entirely different radar,and EW suit from export oriented jets to maintain some edge and degree of secrecy. Most probably the suitable AESA for domestic use is Vixen 1000 which also got IRST and has reportedly more range than Chinese one.

  • by Salman Khan
    Posted February 2, 2017 8:00 pm 0Likes

    Myanmar has nil expertise in aircraft manufacturing. I wonder how they can ever manufacture locally the THIRD block of JF-17

  • by jamshed_kharian_pak
    Posted February 2, 2017 11:55 pm 0Likes

    JF17 sale is a good thing we are entitled to the business, but without forgetting our moral obligations towards our Muslim brothers particularly Rohingya

  • by Omar Dar
    Posted February 2, 2017 11:57 pm 0Likes

    Although there is a serious moral question against dealing with Myanmar, we must remember that china is a major partner in this project and china doesn’t like getting involved in the internal affairs of other countries. This is why the sale might be completed.

  • by Steve
    Posted February 3, 2017 6:04 am 0Likes

    The British always had a plan to wreck societies they sneaked into, firstly by instigating internecine conflict among different communities, religions, and ethnic groups in countries they ruled (divide and rule), and secondly to typically empower groups that historically had not held power, to do their work and perpetuate their own rule. Thirdly when they were forced to leave colonies, they nearly always drew up lines for ‘new’ countries across ethic and religious territories. It has caused unending conflict for nearly a century now even after the end of colonial times. Moving to Burma, before we get carried away with Umma stuff how many of us get worried when Muslims kill Muslims which is happening all over the world a lot more than in Burma. How many of us even know what Rohingya Muslims look like? Problem is Pakistan is not strong or rich enough to make countries change course. However if we engage we may have some influence, if we boycott we have zero, Rohingya condition remains unchanged, and Burma may even buy Tejas. Agree we should not export radar etc from our Block III but go for other solutions. Ironically Burma’s JF17 may end up better than our 1st two blocks. That’s not a problem and has happened before as F16 block 60 which USA did not have was better than block 50/52. A lot needs to be considered.

  • by Zain YG
    Posted February 3, 2017 11:35 am 0Likes

    lol pakistan deals with amerikkka and saudis, and y’all got moral discomfort with myanmar? the hypocrisy goodness

  • by MT
    Posted February 3, 2017 4:01 pm 0Likes

    dont underestimate burmese capabilities. They have decent ship building industry. they built their 1st frigate & commissioned it last year

  • by Superior Shakeel
    Posted February 3, 2017 4:28 pm 0Likes

    the best thing to do is not sell the aircraft to the burmese and it will be a humanitarian stand not just religious the way they are being subjected to genocide that makes kashmir situation look like a high school drama.

    the reports are that in some villages they are unleashing hungry hounds to prey on the rohingyas and letting them eaten alive by these so called buddhist and please dont spout of this UMMAH nonsense arabs or others dont give a jack shit about them and if we sell the aircraft too than we are not any better i know this is going to be tough but we shoould stick to our moral stand and fight for it.

    also we may need to convince china to not to go through with the deal if we back out and let them know of our reservations in clear terms.

  • by Superior Shakeel
    Posted February 3, 2017 4:37 pm 0Likes

    it depends on what components and LRU the block 3 is going to end with if we opt for western vendors then burma can do the same provided they are not exempted from buying those from that respective country at best we can try to introduce legal roadblocks like the deal to supply radar and EW is only between pakistan and that country you have to negotiate your own.

    if they get the chinese system then we can ask the chinese or KRIET to serially degrade the product during manufacturing if we are not able to stop the deal that is.

    also Tejas is no where near ready to be exported they need to fulfill their domestic orders first besides they can’t provide manufacturing line anyways.

    anyways we should oppose the deal and not sell them a dime to let them know of our concerns and ask china to do the same atleast not until they introduce some laws to protect the minority muslim community their the genocide their is even far worse than what Nazis did those buddhist supremacist are out of their minds with the tactics they are employing to kill rohingya these JF-17 can very well be used to bomb rohingyas itself imagine the blood on our hands.

  • by Syed Rehman
    Posted February 3, 2017 5:42 pm 0Likes

    Pakistans military will lose all moral high ground if it sells JF-17 to Burma. No longer will the Pakistan military be able to claim that it fights for muslims. It would be a shame on the nation.

  • by Alex Retiman
    Posted February 3, 2017 10:20 pm 0Likes

    Your indian military claimed to have done a ‘surgical’ strike in Myanmar. Do you really think Burmese have forgotten this, and do you really think they ‘like’ you? Not a chance dude.

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