Pakistan Embassy Admits JF-17 Fighter Jet Deal May Fail With Argentina; Imran Khan Govt. Responds On Twitter

It seems the Imran Khan government in Pakistan is at odds with its Foreign Office. Two back-to-back episodes involving Pakistani foreign missions have caused huge embarrassment to Islamabad.

In the latest diplomatic gaffe, the country’s embassy in Argentina has posted a message on Instagram claiming that diplomats cannot be held responsible for mistakes and that Pakistan “may lose out the JF-17 deal with Argentina”.

The latest episode comes just a few days after the Pakistani embassy in Serbia uploaded a song criticizing the country’s leadership on its official Twitter account and even mentioned Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

The Twitter post had asked the government as to how long they expect government officials to remain silent and work without being paid, pointing out that inflation in the country was at an all-time high. It stated that the diplomats had been compelled to take their children out of school since they had not paid their dues for three months.

In the latest incident, the Pakistani Embassy in Argentina purportedly condemned the Imran Khan administration, advocating for a political change to restore Pakistan’s reliability and credibility. The post further claimed that Pakistan “may lose out” on the JF-17 deal with Argentina. 

CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder - Wikipedia
CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder – Wikipedia

According to reports, Argentina was in talks with Pakistan to purchase 12 JF-17A Block III aircraft. The Argentinian government had reportedly included the $664 million funding for the jet deal. However, Argentina’s Defense Ministry later issued a statement rejecting these reports. 

The post was then removed, and both the Pakistani embassy in Argentina and Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released tweets alleging that the “Instagram account of the Embassy of Pakistan in Argentina was hacked”.

“Please note that all messages posted through this account in the last one hour were not from the Embassy of Pakistan in Argentina,” the tweet added. 

Pakistan is currently in the midst of a massive economic crisis, owing to a large amount of debt and the country is struggling to keep its balance sheet in order. Recently, it was reported that the Pakistan Embassy in the United States has been unable to pay its contractual personnel.

The report noted that at least five of the Pakistani embassy employees, who have been hired locally, experienced wage delays and nonpayment beginning in August 2021. 

The financial problem worsened to the point where an old employee had to resign in September due to delays and non-payment. The report further added that these local workers, whether permanent or temporary, are not entitled to the same advantages and privileges as Foreign Office personnel, such as healthcare coverage.

JF-17 Thunder 

Argentina had officially announced it did not finalize any deal to purchase the JF-17.

The JF-17 Thunder is a multi-role fighter aircraft jointly developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation to fulfill the Pakistan Air Force’s airpower requirements.

The JF-17 and CM-400AKG anti-ship missile. (via Twitter)

The aircraft is equipped with a glass cockpit and a specially designed canopy. In addition, the cockpit includes three multifunction displays (MFD), a head-up display (HUD), a 32-bit weapon and mission management computer (WMMC), and hands-on throttle and stick. 

The JF-17 is equipped with a GSh-23 dual-barrel 23mm cannon or GSh-30 dual-30mm cannon. There are seven hardpoints on the plane, four under the wings, one under the fuselage, and two on the wingtips. It can carry a payload of up to 3,700kg. 

The fighter plane has also a defensive aids system (DAS), which includes a radar warning system (RWS), a missile approach and warning system (MAWS), a countermeasure dispensing system, and a self-protection radar jamming pod. The RWS gathers data on the enemy radar’s direction and proximity and sends it to the pilot.

The MAWS consists of several optical sensors that identify and display threatening rocket missiles on multifunction displays (MFDs). The countermeasure dispensing system’s decoy flares and chaff lock the enemy’s radar system, preventing the missile from tracking the aircraft.

The Block III of JF-17 is reportedly armed with PL-10E short-range air-to-air missiles, as seen in images of the aircraft taking off. The photographs, which were first uploaded on April 27 on the website, reveal the prototype in flight with the number ‘3001’. On a JF-17, two IR-guided PL-10E AAMs are also visible for the first time.

JF-17 Thunder at Paris Air Show, June 2019 – Wikimedia Commons

According to reports, the upgraded aircraft is equipped with a wide-angle holographic head-up display and a new imaging infrared (IIR)-based missile approach warning system.

A military expert in Beijing was quoted by Global Times as saying, “With the PL-10, the JF-17 Block 3 will gain tremendous dogfight capability and have an edge even against its heavier opposing counterparts in homeland air defense.”

Myanmar ordered 16 JF-17s from Pakistan and China in July 2015. On December 17, 2018, the Myanmar Air Force acquired the first batch of JF-17s. The Nigerian Air Force formally inducted its three JF-17 Thunder multirole fighters into service this year at Makurdi Air Base, becoming the second customer.