Kamra (Staff Agencies/Agencies): At least 16 new JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, manufactured jointly by China and Pakistan, have been inducted to the 14-Squadron of the Pakistan Air Force.

A ceremony to hand over JF-17 Thunder jets to 14-Squadron of Pakistan Air Force was held at Kamra Airbase on Thursday.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif attended the ceremony as chief guest. Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Amman was also present, Radio Pakistan reported.

The Defence Minister inspected the guard of honour followed by an impressive fly-past. He also reviewed the newly fighter jets. The JF-17 Thunder, a single-engine multi-role fighter jet, and was jointly developed by China and Pakistan. Development on the aircraft started in 1999, and the maiden flight was conducted in 2003.

The initial Block 1 JF-17s were received in 2007, with production of the upgraded Block 2 JF-17s started in 2013. The upgraded models have upgraded avionics, air-to-air refuelling capability, data link, enhanced electronic warfare capability and enhanced load carrying ability.

The JF-17 can be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-ground ordinance. The aircraft mounts both short-range infra-red air to air missiles along with longer ranged radar-guided BVR missiles, an essential capability for a frontline interceptor.

The aircraft can carry 8,000lbs of ordinance on seven external hardpoints, which is an adequate amount of ordinance for any mission profile. The JF-17 enhances the much needed capability of the air force in beyond visual range (BVR) engagements.

The JF-17 is a capable platform, and is on its way to form the backbone of the PAF. It was reported that between 250 and 300 aircraft will be inducted into the air force in order to phase out the ageing fleet of some other aircraft models that are still in operation.