An agreement between Pakistan and Iraq for the sale of 12 JF-17C Thunder Block III fighter jets, along with spare parts and ammunition, has reportedly been reached.
The agreement is said to have been reached during the recent visit of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the head of Pakistani diplomacy, to Baghdad.
Valued at a minimum of $1.1 billion, this deal is poised to become the largest arms sale in the history of Pakistan, as highlighted by Pakistan Republic.
Such an agreement, however, would need approval from the Iraqi Parliament.
The JF-17 Thunder is a Pakistani-Chinese co-production, with 42% of parts reportedly being manufactured in China, and 58% of manufacturing performed in Pakistan. It is marketed as a cost-effective option for countries seeking to bolster their air defense capabilities. Powered by the Klimov RD-33 engine of Russian design, the aircraft can achieve a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 at an altitude of 17,000 meters.
The Block III variant of the JF-17 Thunder is expected to be equipped with advanced features, including an AESA radar (active electronically scanned array), improved avionics, an IRST (Infra-red search and track) system, and an in-flight refueling boom.
Iraqi authorities were also considering the French-made Dassault Rafale fighter. On May 23, 2023, Major General Rasool, the country’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, hinted that France is one of the countries from which Iraq is considering purchasing “modern military equipment.” It is unclear at this point whether a Rafale order is still being considered.