Chengdu: Visiting Pakistani prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, said Thursday that serial production of the jointly developed JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, due to start next year, would strengthen Pakistan's defence. He also said that the country would recover investments made on the project through subsequent sales.
Aziz mentioned that the end of 2007 would see completion of the avionics testing and weapon qualification sub-phases. These would be followed by a weapons evaluation phase, which will be conducted in Pakistan.
Of the sixteen aircraft to be produced next year, eight each will be inducted into the Pakistani and Chinese air forces. Two more aircraft are due to arrive in Pakistan by July and another four in December 2007.
Prime Minister Aziz was visiting China's western province of Sichuan, one of the country's major industrial bases, on the second leg of his six-day visit to a country he described as an "all-weather friend and a strategic partner".
On the subject of the JF-17 Thunder fighter, Aziz also said that the training of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex personnel was currently in progress in China. He also mentioned that infrastructure at the PAC, along with other related activities, was planned to be completed by the end of the year.
In this context he also mentioned that the project would "provide Pakistan resilience against sanctions".
Aziz also inaugurated a consulate general in Chengdu city, which will be this country's third in China, after Hong Kong and Shanghai. He said the facility in the Sichuan province would cover the fast emerging parts of western China and neighbouring provinces.