As India Struggles, Pakistan Bags Another Jet Deal; To Deliver 12 Super Mushshak Aircraft To Zimbabwe

As India goes ‘full throttle’ to sell its fighters and choppers, its arch-rival Pakistan has bagged a military deal to supply the 12 MFI-17 Super Mushshak trainer aircraft to Zimbabwe. This comes after the export success of the Pak-China JF-17 aircraft.

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The deal is the culmination of the multi-million-dollar deal that first got traction when Harare participated in a security and defense exhibition hosted by Islamabad in 2022.

During the International Defence and Exhibition Seminar (IDEAS) held in Karachi on November 25, 2022, a delegation of high-ranking military officers led by Air Vice Marshall Biltim Chingono was present to procure modern aircraft and armaments. This event saw the signing of over 30 contracts.

The MFI-17 Super Mushshak is a lightweight, robust, two/three-seater, single-engine aircraft with fixed, non-retractable, tricycle landing gear. It has been developed to meet US FAR 23 certifications in the Normal and Utility categories and can operate from short, unprepared strips.

The Mushshak is equipped with a 260 HP piston engine, state-of-the-art glass cockpit suite options, an environmental control system, and dual control Elevator and Rudder trim systems. The Super Mushshak is designed for quality training and utility purposes.

Zimbabwe’s acquisition of these aircraft is part of its efforts to replace its aging and worn-out fleet, and it joins other African countries like Nigeria in procuring the Super Mushshak training aircraft from Islamabad.

The move to source military equipment from Eastern Europe and Asian countries, including Pakistan, comes as Zimbabwe continues to grapple with Western-imposed sanctions.

The Air Force of Zimbabwe currently operates a modest air force comprising Chengdu F-7NII and FT-7N fighter aircraft and Hongdu K-8E jet trainers acquired from China in the late 1980s and mid-2000s, respectively. The new acquisition from Pakistan aims to enhance Zimbabwe’s military capability and training programs.

The fleet suffered a slew of aircraft crashes. In 2020, a Zimbabwe Air Force SIAI-Marchetti SF260 trainer aircraft crashed in a compound in Somabhula, about 24 km southwest of Gweru, near the central city of Gweru, killing both pilots. Three years later, another trainer crashed in the Mlezu College general area near Gweru, killing two pilots onboard.

Zimbabwe turned to Nigeria with the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) requesting support in research and development, unmanned aerial vehicle technology, and the operation and maintenance of existing aircraft models such as the F-7 AirGuard and Mi-35.

PAC MFI-17 Mushshak - Wikipedia
PAC MFI-17 Mushshak – Wikipedia

Mushshak’s Flight

The MFI-17 Mushshak is a license-built fixed-gear basic trainer aircraft manufactured by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). The MFI-17 Mushshak was derived from the Saab MFI-17 Supporter, which was based on Saab’s adaptation of the MFI-9 Junior for basic training for civil and military operators.

Saab began work on the MFI-15 (later known as the Safari) in 1968. The prototype featured design changes, including a more powerful Lycoming IO-320 piston engine and a relocated horizontal tail to prevent damage from debris.

The MFI-17 Supporter, an improved version of the MFI-15, was developed with six underwing hardpoints for light and practice weaponry, enhancing its weapons training and light counterinsurgency (COIN) capabilities.

Denmark and Zambia were among the important users of the MFI-17 Supporter. Pakistan took delivery of 18 Supporters, and PAC assembled 92 locally from knocked-down kits, with an additional 149 built locally by PAC.

The Mushshak was designed and developed by PAC for the Pakistan Armed Forces. It is fully aerobatic and built to military specifications. The aircraft is used for various roles, including training, towing, and other ground support tasks. Its fixed-gear design makes it suitable for basic flight training.

The Mushshak retains the unusual braced, mid-mounted, and slightly forward-swept wing, providing excellent all-around vision for trainee pilots.

Super Mushshak is an upgraded version known as the PAC Super Mushshak. The Super Mushshak meets modern primary training syllabi and serves as an ideal basic trainer for Primary flight training, Instrument flying, Aerobatics, stalls, deliberate spins, Night flying, Navigation flying, Formation flying, and Army cooperation missions.

According to PAC, “Built from the ground up, the Super Mushshak is an easy to maintain and simple to fly training/ utility aircraft.”

“The Super Mushshak is one of the most dependable trainer aircraft flying today, embedded with state-of-the-art systems needed for imparting quality training. Powered by the American Lycoming engine, the Super Mushshak is built like a model plane. Since these planes are to be flown by air forces over different terrains, over salt water, in the desert heat, and cooler environments, around half of the world, individual parts have to be treated to protect them from the harsh environmental effects.”

According to a report in The New Voice of Ukraine on January 10, Pakistani shipping and brokerage firm Project Shipping plans to deliver 159 ammunition containers for Ukraine – from the port of Karachi to Gdansk, Poland, in the second half of January. In exchange, Pakistan may receive Ukrainian assistance in modernizing its Mi-17 helicopters.

  • Ritu Sharma has been a journalist for over a decade, writing on defense, foreign affairs, and nuclear technology.
  • The author can be reached at ritu.sharma (at)
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