According to a report from Myanmar-based Narinjara News, the multi-role fighter plane JF-17 Thunder, which Pakistan supplied to Myanmar, has been declared ‘unfit’ and the military junta has sent a “stern message” to Islamabad to answer for the mess.
Pakistan supplied several JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft to Myanmar between 2019 and 2021 as part of a deal signed in 2016. However, all these aircraft have been deemed “unfit for operations” due to malfunctions and structural issues shortly after they were delivered.
This development has strained relations between Pakistan and Myanmar and has prompted China to get involved. Reportedly, Myanmar’s Chinese envoy visited Naypyidaw, carrying a message from China’s top leadership to Gen Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of Myanmar’s military junta.
In an effort to resolve the issue, Pakistan is reportedly trying to renegotiate the deal with newer versions of the JF-17s, likely to be developed by the same partnership between Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Chengdu Aircraft Industries Corporation of China. However, it’s unclear whether the military junta has accepted the renegotiated deal.
This aircraft malfunction has left the military junta in Myanmar frustrated, as it has hindered their plans to bolster their airpower for targeted strikes against resistance groups operating under the People’s Defence Force (PDF), an armed wing of the National Unity Government (NUG).
Additionally, the report suggests that Pakistan’s attempts to sell similar aircraft to other countries, especially in Latin America, have faced obstacles due to the issues with the JF-17s supplied to Myanmar. The military junta’s refusal to engage in further talks with Pakistan has also discouraged other countries from considering aircraft procurement from Pakistan.
Interestingly, China has not included any JF-17s in its own inventory up to this point.