ISLAMABAD - With the US delaying supply of spare parts to Pakistan for its F-16 fleet, the Pakistan Air Force has geared up efforts to commence development of a fifth-generation JF-17 fighter jet under the banner of “Project Azm”.

The project also envisages development of a medium altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as well as munitions.

Pakistan had to accelerate efforts to go for indigenous option after dilly-dallying by the United States in honouring its commitment to supply spare parts for the PAF’s F-16 fleet.  

In addition to other items, the issue of supplying spare parts for the F-16 fleet remained on top of the list between the US and Pakistan since 2009, but the United States did not honour its commitment.

The PAF formally announced its “Project Azm” last year to commence development of a fifth-generation fighter jet.

In his speech after inaugurating of the Kamra Aviation City initiative last year, the Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman had outlined the programme objectives of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), the newly-established Aviation Design Institute (AvDI) and Air University’s Aerospace and Aviation Campus. Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal had also attended the inaugural ceremony.

Air Chief Marshal had said “Our engineering and operational staff have indigenised few core capabilities, which are truly high-tech, the initiative of Project Azm was thus encouraged, which is the designing of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft, MALE UAVs, which are in the final stages of design, development of advanced weapons few of them already produced and other key projects.”

Air University Aerospace and Aviation Campus Kamra is an expansion campus of Air University Islamabad, which was founded in 2002.

The air chief marshal said the campus would “provide the desired impetus for cutting-edge indigenisation programs, strengthen the local industry and harness the demands of foreign aviation industry by reducing … imports and promoting joint research and production ventures.”