LONDON - The JF-17 thunder fighter aircraft, which has been the main attraction of visitors and potential buyers alike at the recently-concluded four-day defence exhibition, IDEAS 20114, has attracted many buyers indulging Nigeria, as the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is close to finalising an order for the purchase of one or two squadrons of the JF-17 Thunder, British defence magazine reported on Friday.

IHS Jane's Defence Weekly quoted Pakistan officials that the NAF finalised its recommendation for the purchase of 25-40 JF-17s after NAF chief Air Marshal Adesola Nunayon Amosu visited Pakistan in October.  Amosu's engagements in Pakistan included a visit to the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) at Kamra, north of Islamabad, where the JF-17 is manufactured.

The fighter aircraft  has been co-produced by Pakistan and China.

The weekly said that so far, the PAC had produced 50 Block 1 JF-17s and began work on another 50 Block 2 variants in late 2013. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) officials told IHS Jane's that a Block 3 variant is being planned.

It quoted the PAF officials as describing the JF-17 Block 3 as a fourth-generation-plus fighter, a term that is used to describe Western aircraft such as Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60s, the Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Dassault Rafale, among others.

The weekly said that Western officials had previously said that a first successful export of the JF-17 holds the key for the programme's long-term sustainment. Potential export customers mentioned as likely candidates for the JF-17 have included Egypt, Nigeria, Myanmar and Venezuela.