ATTOCK - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Wednesday that country’s defence strategy was being devised keeping in view contemporary professional requirements as no battle could be won with outdated technology and discarded strategies.
“The new technology and modern expertise have transformed our defence into a great force ... We want that our defence forces should be ever ready for any contingency,” he said at the roll-out ceremony of the 50th JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction that the country’s military leadership was fully cognisant of the changing environment and was following an agreed and well-integrated approach. “For this reason, we want to ensure that our forces are alert, active and fully equipped with necessary professional skills,” he added.
Nawaz Sharif said the day marked a glorious milestone in the history of country’s aviation industry as well as in the national quest for development and progress. He congratulated Chief of the Air Staff and his team on the successful completion of in-country production of first batch of 50 JF-17 aircraft. He said proud accomplishments marked the history of Pakistan Air Force showing bravado, commitment and courage.
The PM said the skill and passion of ‘flying falcons’ to conquer the skies assured that the country’s aerial frontiers were safe and secure. He said the proficiency of PAF was not limited to the air alone, but it was equally competent to show its mettle in the fields of aircraft manufacture, radar and even the drone technology.
The prime minister said the whole world acknowledged the acumen and potential of Pakistan’s soldiers and it was because of this potential that he had approved the JF-17 project in his previous tenure. He said “today he was immensely proud that this project had successfully reached its completion, and the PAF professionals had met the expectations of the nation”.
Nawaz expressed commitment that the government would meet demands of the defence forces so that their long-standing traditions attain perpetuity. He quoted the April, 13 1948 speech of Quaid-e-Azam during his visit to PAF Academy at Risalpur: “There is no doubt that any country without a strong air force is at the mercy of any aggressor. Pakistan must build up her air force as quickly as possible. It must be an efficient air force second to none and must take its right place with the army and the navy in securing Pakistan’s defence .”
Nawaz Sharif said the JF-17 aircraft had not only strengthened the country’s defence but also led to the growth of aviation industry. He pointed out that several political and economic compulsions came in the way of project during his last tenure. “But, we approved this project disregarding all those pressures as the needs of our armed forces and the defence of the country was our priority. I reiterate my word of honour that even today the defence of the country is as dear to me as it was at that time,” he added.
The prime minister said the JF-17 aircraft development and production was a major flag bearer in the journey towards self-reliance and industrialisation and added a glorious chapter in the history of Pakistan’s friendship with China . He mentioned other joint projects with China , including Gwadar Port, Chashma Power Project, Karakoram Highway, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the recent Karachi Civil Nuclear Power Plant.
Nawaz recalled his recent visit to China where several agreements of strategic nature were reached between the two countries. He said the most prominent amongst these was establishing an economic corridor, linking Gwadar to China through Khunjrab Pass, which would have far-reaching impact on the future of country and the region.
In his interaction with newsmen after witnessing the rolling-out of JF-17 Thunder aircraft, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan desired peaceful relations with neighbouring countries – particularly India and Afghanistan. “Pakistan’s intentions towards its neighbours are positive and it expects similar reciprocity from them,” he said.
The prime minister welcomed the upcoming meeting of the Directors General Military Operations (DGMOs) of Pakistan and India on December 24. He said Pakistan and China were effectively translating their friendly and brotherly relations into development projects for the mutual benefit of their people.
He mentioned the Pakistan China Economic Corridor project, which would link Gwadar to China through Khunjrab Pass and said that economic zones would be set up along the Corridor. The project would have far-reaching impact on the future of both countries, he added. Nawaz said cheap labour in Pakistan would also contribute to the smooth materialisation of projects with China .
On JF-17 Thunder aircraft, which is another co-production with China , the Prime Minister said it would not only strengthen the country’s defence but also lead to the growth of aviation industry. He said Pakistan would also start exporting JF-17 Thunder aircraft. Replying to a question about the difficult procedure of PM’s Youth Loan Scheme, he said the conditions for getting loan would be reviewed and necessary amendments would be made accordingly.
AFP adds: The country launched production of a new version of a combat aircraft featuring upgraded avionics and weapons system.
The plane, to be called Block-II JF-17, will be manufactured at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex west of Islamabad , which has so far produced 50 older-model Block-I JF-17s for the air force.
The complex formally handed over the 50th indigenously produced Block-I JF-17 Thunder aircraft to the air force at a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The JF-17 Thunder has been co-developed and co-produced with the China National Aero-technology Import and Export Corporation.
“The first Block-II JF-17 will be ready by June next year,” chief project director Air Vice Marshal Javaid Ahmad told AFP.
The Block-II will have improved versions of avionics sub-systems, air-to-air refuelling capability, additional weapons carriage capability and some extra operational capabilities.
Ahmad said several countries in Central Asia, South America and Africa had shown interest in buying the new plane.
The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, which overhauls and rebuilds the air force’s whole range of combat aircraft, has the capacity to roll out 16-25 aircraft per year.