ANKARA ($1=18.61 Turkish Liras) — Nearly five years ago, Ankara and Islamabad agreed on the sale of training aircraft. The Turkish Air Force [TurAF] needs them to train new pilots who will fly the American-made F-16 Fighting Falcon. In 2017, the deal was for 52 PAC MFI-17 Super Mushshak license-built fixed-gear basic trainer aircraft. The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has also affected this order and logically, production and delivery have been delayed.
- Azerbaijan and Pakistan already have trained Akinci UCAV ‘pilots’
- Pakistan is awaiting Z-10ME delivery – the Chinese copycat of Apache
- F-16 Fighting Falcon will operate with new non-US-made AESA radar
At the end of last month, however, the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced that the first three of 52 PAC MFI-17 Super Mushshak aircraft were already in Turkey. The planes have already entered the inventory of the Turkish army and are operationally capable, according to a Twitter message from the Turkish Ministry of Defense. The three Pakistani-made planes are located at Yalova Airport, the Turkish Ministry of Defense also says.
Pakistan key deal
Experts say this deal is key. It marked an increase in cooperation and was a turning point in Turkish-Pakistani relations. In recent years, Turkey and Pakistan have been cooperating a lot in the field of the defense industry. It should be noted that this export by Pakistan is also key and is clearly defined as successful for the development and future of Pakistan’s arms industry.
Pakistan began producing this trainer aircraft in the early 1980s. It is based on the Swedish Saab MFI-15 design, whose rights were sold by the Swedes to the Pakistanis in the 1970s.
The PAC MFI-17 is not to be underestimated at all, especially in the field of trainer aircraft. Pakistan is constantly working on improving its capabilities as well as upgrading them to meet the requirements of both the Pakistan Army and its customers. In terms of customers, apart from Pakistan and Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are operators of Pakistani aircraft.
Sources confirm that the plane has anti-tank missiles. The weapon system has improved targeting capabilities, and as of 2019, the PAC MFI-17 is now equipped with capabilities to carry and launch laser-guided missiles. Of note is the fact that this Pakistani aircraft has an integrated blind-flying panel.
More about MFI-17 aircraft
The PAC MFI-17 is powered by an American engine. According to sources, around 200 units of this aircraft are currently flying around the world. According to official figures, over 400 units were produced by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. The PAC MFI-17 fully meets many international requirements, not to be overlooked is the fact that the MFI-17 meets the utility and aerobatic requirements of the United States. I.e. The PAC MFI-17 is FAR23 certified.
The Pakistani designers of the aircraft say their product has been made to be as safe to operate, take off and land in bad weather conditions as it is to perform take-offs and landings on “difficult runways”.
The cockpit of the PAC MFI-17 is made of glass, allowing for high visibility from the pilot during flight. The plane has a large cargo compartment. The fuel tanks hold 48 gallons of fuel. During emergency missions, to avoid possible difficulties, the aircraft has an electric fuel pump.
Last but not least, this aircraft has various armament options. For example, two 75mm rocket pods can be mounted, as well as a 7.62 cannon. Additionally, the aircraft can “accommodate” six more anti-tank missiles and four 68mm capsules for unguided missiles. Above 4 km is the maximum flight height, and the range with fully charged fuel tanks is up to 800 km.
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