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Iraq plans to buy 12 JF-17 Thunder jets from Pakistan: reports

ISLAMABAD – The Iraqi government is planning to acquire 12 JF-17A Block III fighters from Pakistan and has reportedly set aside more than $600 million in funding for the purchase of the said aircraft, local media reported Saturday.

Reports quoting sources said the Western Asian country is the first Arab Islamic country to purchase fighter jets from Pakistan. Iraq earlier expressed interest in purchasing JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jets jointly developed by Pakistan and China, while progress has been made in regard to the sale of 12 fighter jets.

Reports claimed that a delegation from Iraq’s Ministry of Defense recently visited Pakistan, while a formal agreement is expected to be signed in the country’s federal capital in October. The deal was reportedly made during the visit of Deputy Commander of Iraqi Air Force Major General (Pilot) Muhammad Majeed Mahdi Mahmood’s to Pakistan.

Pakistan also hosted a major defense exhibition in Iraq’s capital earlier in April this year. On this occasion, Pakistani pilots also flew Multi-role combat aircraft JF-17 which according to media reports impressed the Iraqi leadership.

Meanwhile, the Arabian country is not the first to show an interest in Pakistani fighter jets as Argentina also mulls buying 12 JF-17 Block III fighters from Pakistan however the Argentine ministry of defense issued a statement later which said “The Argentine Air Force had not selected a preferred fighter yet”.

Furthermore, Malaysia is reportedly interested in the fourth-generation jets developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China.

In April, The EurAsian Times published a report which stated that Pak-Chinese jets are among the top choice along with Korean FA-50 for the Malaysian authorities. Malaysia was reportedly looking for 18 combat aircraft to replace its older fleet with modern fighters.

The JF-17 Block III is a supersonic, multirole 4+ generation fighter aircraft able to perform combat air patrol, air interdiction, beyond visual range integrated battle, long-range maritime strikes, standoff range precision ground strikes, anti-radiation SEAD/DEAD missions, and electronic warfare.

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