Pakistan have had a long history of being denied essentials for its armed forces whenever the time demanded. Even its once most trusted ally, the USA, for whom Pakistan joined the erstwhile CENTO and SEATO, gave a cold shoulder when Pakistan and India went to war in 1965 and 1971. Pakistan then turned to its only trusted ally, the Peoples Republic of China’ for joint production of a military aircraft. In the 80s, a move to jointly develop and build a fighter aircraft, the Project Sabre II, and instead Pakistan was offered F-16s at a reduce d price ostensibly a bid to prevent Pakistan from collaborating with China and developing a military aircraft of its own.
Once again, even after induction of the F-16s, the US sanctions on Pakistan, the spares for the aircraft became a bane for Pakistan. Thus Pakistan once again revived the old projects with China to develop a modern fighter aircraft. Had the earlier project not been shelved, Pakistan would have by now well been on its way to indigenously producing its own aircraft. However, not wasting any more time, the JF-17 Thunder project went into way (details skipped here and can be read from the link given below).
The first prototype aircraft, PT-01, rolled out on 31 May 2003 followed by the maiden test flight in China the same year. Deliveries to the Pakistan Air Force for further flight testing and evaluation began in 2007. The same year on 23rd March 2007, the JF-17 Thunder had its maiden demonstration flight in full public view in Islamabad. The Pakistan Air Force officially inducted its first JF-17 squadron on 18th February 2010. The aircraft has seven external hard points that can carry 8,000 pounds of ordnance. Internal armament comprises one 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon mounted under the port side air intake, which can be replaced with a 30 mm GSh-30-2 twin-barrel cannon.
Most certainly, the induction of JF-17 in the PAF fleet is a long awaited milestone. Now the Pakistan Air Force can further develop and modify the aircraft to suit to its military needs and can have a sustained delivery of front line aircraft in years to come.
Detailed Information on JF-17 Thunder:
JF-17 Thunder (Wikipedia)
JF-17 Thunder: Pakistani Warrior in the Sky (YouTube Video)