Sri Lankan Government is facing mounting pressure from its powerful neighbour India over a defence deal Sri Lanka is to enter into with Pakistan. According to highly placed sources in the diplomatic circles, India has expressed its strong opposition to a deal the SL Government entered into with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to purchase 10 JF-17 combat aircraft.
The deal was entered into apparently when former Air Force Commander Jayalath Weerakkody was serving as the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Pakistan.
It is a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. The JF-17 can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack and aircraft interception. Its designation ‘JF-17’ by Pakistan is short for ‘Joint Fighter-17’
The JF-17 was primarily developed to meet the PAF’s requirement for an affordable, modern, multi-role combat aircraft as a replacement for its large fleet of Dassault Mirage III/5 fighters, Nanchang A-5 bombers, and Chengdu F-7 interceptors, with a cost of US$ 500 million, divided equally between China and Pakistan. The aircraft was also intended to have export potential as a cost-effective and competitive alternative to more expensive Western fighters.