Should Pakistan sell its JF-17 Thunder to Bangladesh if Dhaka shows an interest?

The recent stand-off between Pakistan and India has seen a significant increase in the demand for Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder fighter jet. India’s claims of a surgical strike inside Pakistan were widely discredited by international experts. On the contrary, JF-17 gained international reverence after it successfully downed two Indian fighter jets, the MiG-21, and the SU-30.

“This recent exchange of firepower between the two hostile neighbors has resulted in a spiking interest in the JF-17 Thunderbird from many countries around the world”

This recent exchange of firepower between the two hostile neighbors has resulted in a spiking interest in the JF-17 Thunderbird from many countries around the world especially after being battle tested against the SU 30. While sales have been approved for Nigeria, recent reports suggest that various countries including Algeria, Argentina, Qatar, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Uruguay have shown interest in the JF-17.

“If Bangladesh were to show an interest in the JF-17, would Islamabad be willing to sell the fighter jet to Dhaka or not, given that there may be a risk of proliferation of technology?”

Which begs the question that if Bangladesh were to show an interest in the JF-17, would Islamabad be willing to sell the fighter jet to Dhaka or not, given that there may be a risk of proliferation of technology? The JF-17 has modern tech systems like Forward-Looking Infrared (Radar) FLIR, Day/night laser designator, radar jammer.

However, it is equipped with off the shelf technology, so there is no risk of proliferation of technology unless the JF-17 has a dual task which includes nuclear delivery where it can carry nuclear weapons which Bangladesh does not have.

Presently, Bangladesh operates the MiG-29. The type is also in service with their neighbors India. However, from a political standpoint, India is going to be upset on the Bangladesh selection.

The JF-17 would be perfect for Bangladesh. It’s cheap and is in line with existing force supply as the JF-17 also uses a modified MiG-29 engine. They can also use existing Russian weapons too.

“Bangladesh’s relationship with Pakistan has been topsy turvy”

Bangladesh’s relationship with Pakistan has been topsy turvy and if there are political issues in dealing with Pakistan, they could buy the JF-17 from China, although Pakistan might have a say in that as well. Pakistan would also be concerned about Bangladesh’s intent with respect to it all and whether the JF-17 technology gets exported into the hands of India, through Bangladesh.

Moreover, if Pakistan does decide to sell the JF-17 to Bangladesh, it could do so by supplying downgraded versions or better, opted for foreign systems.

“It all depends on Bangladesh’s strategy and planning. They could go with China for the JF-17 or buy directly from Pakistan. But as such, it could antagonize India.”

It all depends on Bangladesh’s strategy and planning. They could go with China for the JF-17 or buy directly from Pakistan. But as such, it could antagonize India. Even the news of Sri Lanka looking to buy the JF-17 stirred up enough fuss from India that culminated in the cancellation of the sale. It’s not about the JF-17, but about the politics behind it.

Faisal Rahat

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