The Sri Lankan government has refuted media reports that the country has entered a defence co-operation agreement with Pakistan to purchase JF-17 fighters.
Sri Lankan defence secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi was quoted by The Hindu saying: "The matter did not even come up for discussion during the talks [with the Pakistani government]."
The Sunday Times in Sri Lanka reported that Pakistan signed an agreement to sell eight JF-17 Thunder fighter jets to Sri Lankan forces.
In addition, the publication stated ‘both countries signed eight agreements related to defence, security, anti-terrorism, trade and science and technology.’
Sri Lanka Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mahishini Colonne was quoted saying: "If there arises a requirement for Sri Lanka to procure aircraft of this nature, in keeping with the policy of the government of Sri Lanka to maintain transparency, expressions of interest will be called for, from all concerned."
A joint venture production between China and Pakistan, the JF-17 is armed with GSh-23 dual-barrel 23mm cannon or a GSh-30 dual-30mm cannon.
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The aircraft has seven hardpoints of which four are located under the wings, one under the fuselage and two mounted on the wingtips. It can carry up to 3,700kg of payload.
The aircraft is fitted with PL-12 or SD-10 radar homing medium range air-to-air missile (MRAAM), unguided bombs, satellite guided and gravity bombs, anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles, as well rocket launchers and a laser designator pod.
Image: JF-17 in a clean configuration. Photo: courtesy of Eric Salard.