Grounded JF-17 fighter jets expose fallout of deals with Russia, China

By Zarak Khan

A Pakistani Air Force member guards 14 dual-seat JF-17B multi-role aircraft rolled out at a ceremony that coincided with the launch of JF-17 Block-III aircraft at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra, west of Islamabad, on December 30, 2020. [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]

A Pakistani Air Force member guards 14 dual-seat JF-17B multi-role aircraft rolled out at a ceremony that coincided with the launch of JF-17 Block-III aircraft at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra, west of Islamabad, on December 30, 2020. [Aamir Qureshi/AFP]

Pakistan's fleet of China-made JF-17 fighter jets is grounded for mechanical problems in what has become another indicator of the poor quality of Chinese military equipment.

The JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft, jointly developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex) and China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corp., is a low-cost, lightweight, all-weather multi-role fighter with a Chinese airframe, equipped with Western avionics and powered by the Russian Klimov RD-93 turbofan jet engine.

Pakistan has commissioned more than 100 of the aircraft since 2007.

Since then, the JF-17 has recorded a string of crashes, casting serious doubts on the quality of Chinese-co-manufactured aircraft and of their engines.

A media report in 2012 listed a string of 12 crashes over 18 months, among which were several JF-17's and Chengdu F-7 fighter jets bought from China.

More recently, most of the JF-17 fleet has been grounded for lack of spare parts for the RD-93 engine, Hindustan Times reported August 23.

A large number of the RD-93 engines installed in the JF-17 aircraft have developed cracks in guide vanes, exhaust nozzles and flame stabilisers, according to the report.

Inferior military equipment

Pakistan has long had problems with Chinese-made military equipment.

Pakistan has been facing serious mechanical problems with at least four frigates developed by Chinese shipbuilding firms since 2009, according to defence think- tanks.

The frigates were delivered to Pakistan between 2009 and 2013 under a $750 million deal with China inked in 2005.

Pakistan's four Chinese-made F-22P frigates "are giving nightmares to Pakistani Navy officers and men tasked to keep them afloat in the turbulent waters of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean", according to a June 14 report by, an Italian think-tank.

"Defective critical components and poor service from Chinese manufacturers have forced the Pakistani Navy to operate these four frigates with degraded operational capabilities, compromising some of the key mission objectives with which these ships were bought at a high price," concluded.

In February, the Pakistan Army found quality and reliability issues with the VT-4, the main battle tank built by China North Industries Corp. (Norinco) for overseas export, the Economic Times of India reported at the time, citing undisclosed sources.

Pakistan's 203mm towed heavy artillery guns imported from China have also been a headache.

"China-made weapons are not just technologically inferior, they also remain untested on the battlefield, unlike weapons from the US and many of its allies," Alexander Vuving, a professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii, told The EurAsian Times in June.

For many buyers of Chinese military equipment, the main factors are "price and politics, with corruption playing a prominent role", he said.

"For example, China can offer weapons at a low cost, with hefty discounts or bribes for officials in charge of the procurement and go-between individuals."

Dissatisfied customers

Pakistan is not the first country that has received faulty military equipment, aircraft and warships from China.

Various countries around the world have been complaining about the faulty Chinese military equipment.

For example, Algeria lost three Chinese-made CH-4B combat drones to crashes in a matter of months, the Global Defence Corp. website reported in March 2021.

The Royal Jordanian Air Force sold off its CH-4B's in 2019, only three years after buying them, the Oryx military news site of the Netherlands reported in January. Saudi Arabia was the likely buyer, though their destination was not reported.

The CH-4B's are manufactured by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The Bangladeshi air force found that the 23 Nanchang PT-6 basic trainer aircraft it acquired from China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corp. were defective, the news site of India reported last November.

Meanwhile, in 2016, Kenya purchased armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from China to protect soldiers in the line of duty.

The Kenyan government's assurances that the vehicles could withstand explosions and save lives have proven hollow, Tuko, a news website in Nairobi, reported in August 2018.

Roadside bombs planted by the al-Shahaab terrorist group have repeatedly killed Kenyan troops riding in the Chinese APCs, Tuko reported.

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17 Comment(s)

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If you buy Made in China cheap rubbish you get cheap rubbish.


What kind of dirty page is this?


The man standing next to the ships is on duty, not just guarding them. Salute to your intellect.


That's all rubbish. Even if we don't have airplanes but possess faith, and belief, as well as righteous deeds, then the saying of Allah Almighty is sufficient for us. "For He sent against them flocks of birds, that pelted them with stones of baked clay, leaving them like chewed up straw".




This is a stupid and nonsense column. It is just a propaganda campaign.


All this is the propaganda of India and America, the land of the ignorant, the base of the terrorists, and the patron of the terrorists. Currently, there is no country that can compete with China in arms production. Long live Pakistan-China friendship. And this is all fake news. Taken from Indian newspapers. Which itself is a world of false and propaganda news. Far from reality.


Yes and that is why Pakistan has problems because of blind robots like you, who can’t think for themselves.


The heart wants to praise the writer, brother! what do you think that the army, which used most of the American weapons and made them by themselves as well, does not know the quality of it? I wonder how you can guys write like this.


All right ships GF 17 but India doesn't understand even after learning the lesson.


It is very clear that this page is being used for propaganda purposes only. I can say with certainty that its handlers are people from Indian agencies. And its operations are being run from India like hundreds of other propaganda websites.


I think this page is working for Indian lobby. Because it is creating misunderstandings between Pakistan and China.


Nonsense propaganda by American columnists. The US-sponsored regime change operation has brought Pakistan to the level of default


All the articles that you wrote are almost alike except for minor differences.


Fuck off hum ghaas nhi khate .. proud Pakistan Air force..


You are giving references from indian times ,which is a propaganda news ,shame on you .do your own research work.