Through introducing technology from China and Pakistan, Myanmar plans to produce FC-1/JF-17 Xiaolong/Thunder multirole fighters domestically for its air force, reports the Yangon-based Myanmar Times.
The Myanmar Air Force has 23,000 pilots and ground personnel. With 10 major air force bases, it currently operates 32 Russian-built MiG-29B and MiG-29SE fighters, 25 Chinese-built J-7M fighters, 21 Chinese built Q-5 attackers and 16 trainers. In addition, it also has nine Mi-35 attack helicopters and more than 90 other types of helicopters. Chinese military aircraft have become very popular among the military of Myanmar in recent years, according to the report.
The air force has been looking to purchase a license from China or Pakistan to produce its own Xiaolong fighters, according to the report. Designed jointly by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, the FC-1/JF-17 fighter is capable of carrying air-to-air missiles including the PL-5EII, PL-9C and PL-12. The C-802A anti-ship missile can also be equipped when the Myanmar Air Force needs to provide air support to the nation's naval forces in combat.
When facing an enemy aircraft in close combat, the Xiaolong can attack its target with its Russian-built Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 twin-barreled 23 mm autocannon. The Pakistan Air Force is currently the only air force in the world operating Xiaolong. About 54 JF-17s have been produced in Pakistan for the air force. Other countries in Southeast Asia like Bangladesh could be potential consumers of Xiaolong fighters in the near future.