By Mateen Haider
ISLAMABAD: In a landmark development Pakistan got another international defence order from Iraq for the sale of 12 fighter jets JF-17 Thunder Block III, manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra.
Top official sources told The Nation that several rounds of negotiations between Pakistan and Iraq on fighter jets continued this year at the highest level but finally completed with the visiting Iraqi defence delegation led by Deputy Commander Iraqi Air Force Major General (Pilot) Muhammad Majeed Mahdi Mahmood and top Pakistani officials. Gen Mehdi is on an official visit to Pakistan.
According to the sources, the defence deal was approved by both the Iraqi and Pakistani governments and a formal agreement is expected to be signed in Islamabad next month. The Iraqi government has approved the amount of 664 million USD for the purchase of 12 fighter aircraft from Pakistan.
Iraqi Defence Minister Lieutenant General Juma Inad Saadoun earlier visited Pakistan in May during which he held meetings with Pakistani leaders and officials and discussed Iraq’s interest to buy JF-17 Thunder fighter jets from Pakistan.
Pakistan has earlier organised a major defence exhibition in Baghdad in April 2021 in which JF-17 Thunder thrilled the Iraqi airspace with its extraordinary performance and won the hearts of the government and people of Iraq.
Chairman JCSC Gen Nadeem Raza had also visited Iraq in March 2021 and held meetings with top Iraqi defence officials and discussed defence cooperation between the two countries.
The sources told The Nation the production of JF-17 Thunder Block 3 is in production process at PAC Kamra.
Iraq is the third country which would be purchasing these fighter jets from Pakistan. Earlier Argentina has agreed to buy 12 fighter jets from Pakistan. Nigeria had also purchased three fighter jets from Pakistan Air Force last year and these fighter jets were handed over to Nigerian Air Force this year.