BDMilitary.com learnt that the Pakistani authorities have requested their Chinese partners to sell JF-17 Thunder light combat aircraft to the Bangladesh Air Force in an effort to decrease production costs and make the project a success.
A Chinese delegation from China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) is due to arrive in Dhaka with a proposal to sell up to 50 FC-20s and JF-17’s at extremely competitive prices with a defence hardware loan package.
Desperate to sell JF-17’s the Pakistanis went to the extent of requesting the Chinese to even stop offering the FC-20 to the Bangladesh Air Force so that their pet joint project can score export success.
The Bangladesh Government’s official position on Pakistan is negative due to the latter’s war crimes against the people of Bangladesh during the 1971 war of independence and later phase of sponsoring Shanti Bahini insurgents and Islamic extremists to destabilise Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries.
On a head to head performance basis the JF-17 cannot compete with FC-20 or MiG-35 Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. Moreover Myanmar Air Force ordered 16 units of the JF-17 in 2015 with each unit costing $35 million. Other countries have displayed interest but are very unlikely to purchase the JF-17 due to its performance, third-party engine and Pakistan’s involvement in the project.
PAC Kamra’s ability to only produce 20~25 airframes per year leaves question marks as to how the aircraft plant can cope with export demands after supplying its own air force.
The Chinese would have to offer the Bangladesh Air Force an advanced version of the JF-17 with production rights and a price that the Russians cannot beat. On the other hand if such a deal is in the pipeline it may force neighbouring India to modify its defence credit package worth $500 million so that the Bangladesh Air Force can use that money to purchase Russian made light combat aircraft.
Bangladesh is at the centre of a regional arms sales push with countries from Europe, Russia and China pitching all types of aircraft, land systems and naval platforms.
Bangladesh’s arms purchase increased a whopping 681% over the last 5 years to make it