“This project can truly become as a flagship of our historic cooperation and strengthen our time-tested partnership,” the Prime Minister said while addressing a gathering of Pakistani and Chinese technicians during his visit to the JF-17 production facility at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex here.
Gilani lauded the pace of JF-17 Thunder programme which had moved into a serial production stage in a record time. He also acknowledged the role of Chinese experts for imparting technical know-how to the Pakistani technicians for the transfer of technology.
“The support provided by our Chinese friends in this, and in so many other common projects between Pakistan and China is greatly cherished by every Pakistani,” he said.
The Prime Minister termed the project a reflection of deeper bond between the two governments and the people.
“The success of the project would add another glorious chapter in our long history of cooperation,” he said.
Gilani went around different sections of the facility and expressed satisfaction that the project milestones were being accomplished in an efficient and timely manner.
He said Pakistan Airforce with an initiative like JF-17 program was not only rendering valuable services for strengthening the national defence but also providing a valuable opportunity to the youth.
“It is an opportunity involving a more constructive and positive approach to life that offers education, livelihood and training and leading to a better life,” he said.
Gilani exhorted all the personnel associated with the project to commit all “faculties of body and soul” for its success.
He expressed hope that with Allah’s blessing and commitment, many more laurels shall come in shape of timely completion of projects.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Salman said with the support of the government, twenty two JF-17 aircraft had been inducted into the 26th squadron of the PAF, while eight others were in various stages of tests and trials.
He said the aircraft, whose production began on June 13, 2009 and the first made-in-Pakistan rolled out on Nov 23, 2009, has successfully made its presence felt at the air shows at Farnborough, UK and Zhuhai, China. He said the aircraft also participated in the Highmark and the Azm-e-nau exercises.
He said a number of air forces around the world were eyeing the new entrant into the arena with keen interest.
The Air Chief presented to the Prime Minister a gift of a statue of an Air Force pilot - a symbol of determination to succeed despite all odds.
Earlier, the Prime Minister was apprised that Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra was now providing three major computer systems for the JF-17 aircraft.
These include Weapon Mission Management Computer, Electro-Mechanical Management Computer and Light Warning Computer.
The PAC was currently producing three aircraft a month and with a larger facility will be able to increase production and enable Pakistan earn a handsome foreign exchange.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Khalid Shamim Wyne, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Health Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh also accompanied the Prime Minister.