JF17 Thunder has made it’s place in the international market in a very short span of time. Many countries have shown interest in the aircraft. Many others have an eye on up-coming block of JF-17. Once inducted in PAF, the Block III variant will attract more market in coming times. Myanmar is currently operating the aircraft. Nigeria is next in the row. Saudi Arabia and Argentina have shown interest in co-production of the aircraft.
Myanmar ordered 16 JF-17 Thunder Fighter jets from Pakistan and China in July 2015. Unlike the engines of Pakistan’s JF-17 RD-93, Myanmar Air Force‘s JF-17s are using russian RD-33 engines. In late 2015, Myanmar ordered 16 RD-33 engines from Russia. However the engines were received in 2018 and 2019. On 17 December 2018, Jane’s disclosed that the Myanmar Air Force had received the first of up to 16 JF-17s it had ordered in 2015. An official Myanmar Air Force video released on Air Force day showcased a number of JF-17s, both on static display and in the air. Currently Myanmar has 6 JF-17s in their inventory while 10 others are on order.
In December 2014, during the International Defence Exhibition in Karachi, Nigeria was reportedly buying 25 to 40 JF-17s. Nigerian Air Force chief had visited Pakistan in October 2014. Nigeria became the second customer in 2016 by placing an order for 3 planes. A June 2016 article in Jane’s re-affirmed NAF budget for 3 JF-17 in 2016. In October 2018 Pakistan approved of the sale and local production of three NAF JF-17s for US$184.3 million.
Currently the NAF JF-17s are in final stages of their completion at PAC Kamra. Nigerian Pilots are reportedly undergoing training in Pakistan. According to the reports the delivery of 3 JF-17s to Nigeria will be made in Nov 2020. The aircraft are of a later version than the initially agreed sale. Reportedly they are of Block II variant providing more advanced systems.
Various countries have shown interest in JF-17 Thunder since it’s induction in PAF. The Azerbaijani Air Forces negotiated with China for several dozen JF-17s worth approximately US$16 to 18 million each. The Sudanese Air Force was reportedly negotiating to buy twelve aircraft. The Air Force of Zimbabwe reportedly planned to purchase twelve JF-17s in 2004, as part of a $240 million deal with China. In June 2015 Sri Lanka Air Force was in talks with PAC for purchase of 10-12 aircraft. Furthermore Morocco also showed interest in JF-17. But JF-17 Block I and Block II have broadly different electronics suites and air-to-air & air-to-surface munitions than its current Western-sourced aircraft No such sales have materialized. In 2010, China was reportedly in talks about the JF-17 with five or six countries, some of which had sent pilots to China to undergo test flights.
Argentine discussed JF-17’s co-production with Chinese officials. For this purpose Argentine president paid a three-day visit to Beijing on 15 February 2015. However at the end Argentina negotiated to purchase 20 FC-1s from Chengdu Aircraft Corporation. The Royal Saudi Air Force was reportedly examining potential technology transfer and co-production opportunities for the JF-17. Saudi Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Sultan toured the JF-17 project during a visit to Pakistan.