The Myanmar Air Force’s JF-17 fighter aircraft program is on track contrary to fabricated reports published on social media pages.
Some pages indicated that Myanmar Air Force allegedly refused to accept further JF-17M aircraft from Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and grounded 6 existing aircraft which were delivered as of 2018.
The Myanmar Air Force signed a deal for 16 JF-17M and JF-17B fighter aircraft in 2015 at a cost of roughly $25 million each.
Bangladesh defence officials have confirmed the rumours about Myanmar cancelling the JF-17 program are untrue. They indicated the program would never be cancelled unless the aircraft suffered severe operational problems.
Bangladeshi defence officials were quick to point out that they are satisfied with the Myanmar Air Force having selected the JF-17 because it would not pose to be a serious threat to the future fighter fleet of the Bangladesh Air Force. Had the reports on the social media been truthful the Myanmar Air Force would be seeking out an alternative to the JF-17.
The analysis team at Defseca believes such an eventuality would force Myanmar Air Force to find alternative options such as J-10 or even HAL Tejas further complicating matters for the Bangladesh Air Force.
The Pakistan Air Force currently operates 7 squadrons of JF-17’s including a test and evaluation flight. It has gone without any major incidents so far. It dispatched 25 JF-17 fighters to launch a strike across the Line of Control on targets in the Indian held Kashmir after the Indian Air Force allegedly bombed targets inside Pakistan. The JF-17 program has been a success for the Pakistan Air Force, which is preparing to induct another 50 aircraft by 2024 in the Block III standard and another 26 two-seat JF-17B aircraft having additional fuel capacity and the enhanced application for training and strike missions. The Block III variant of the JF-17 is expected to make first flight soon.
No Myanmar Air Force affiliated sources, Myanmar defence sites or social media pages were able to verify about the grounding of the JF-17.
The Myanmar Air Force operates several models of aircraft including JF-17s, Yak-130 advanced jet trainers, Shaanxi Y-8, Grob G120TPs, Soko G-4s, Hongdu K-8s, MiG-29s.