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Saudi eyeing Pakistan’s JF-17 fighter jet, modeled from U.S. F-16

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ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia has been examining the prospect of becoming a partner in Pakistan’s fighter jet program.

Officials said the Saudi Defense Ministry has been reviewing Pakistan’s JF-17 fighter jet program.

Pakistani JF-17

Pakistani JF-17

The officials said representatives of the ministry as well as the Royal Saudi Air Force were examining the feasibility of procuring JF-17 as part of cooperation with Islamabad.

“This project could provide the kingdom with technology that could be used in future projects,” an official said.

On Jan. 20, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Salman Bin Sultan visited Pakistan and toured the JF-17 project, modeled after the U.S.-origin F-16 and which entered production in late 2013. Salman, hosted by Pakistani Chief of Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif, was said to have focused on enhanced defense cooperation, including training and an exchange of expertise.

“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security and
enhanced bilateral defense collaboration including training exchange program
were discussed,” an official statement said.

Pakistan has been deemed the leading strategic ally of Saudi Arabia.
Western diplomats said Pakistan, with assistance from China, has provided
ballistic missiles and non-conventional weapons expertise to the Gulf
Cooperation Council kingdom.

Officials said Pakistan has offered to supply the Saudi military with
aircraft, main battle tanks and submarines. They said the offer included
technology transfer as well as co-production in Saudi Arabia.

“The expectation is that Saudi purchases from Pakistan will increase
over the coming year,” the official said.

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