Sri Lanka will become the first foreign country to acquire the JF-17 Thunder, otherwise known as the FC-1 Xiaolong or "Fierce Dragon," the multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China, reports the Pakistan-based 92NewsHD.
According to the report, the order will be for around 18-24 aircraft, confirming claims made at the 51st Paris Air Show last week that the first contract for the sale of the JF-17 had been signed with "an Asian country."
Rumors that Sri Lanka might be the first to export the JF-17 arose earlier this month when a photo of the office of a Sri Lankan air force commander revealed a scale model of the JF-17.
The Pakistan Air Force announced that they will begin delivery of the JF-17 to Sri Lanka from 2017, adding that its Pakistani and Chinese developers will continue efforts to promote the aircraft to other countries.
Publicly available information indicates that the Sri Lanka Air Force currently has around 160 aircraft, 27,400 soldiers and 1,300 officers. Aircraft acquired from Chia include seven J-7 fighter jets and nine Y-12 transport aircraft, with additional orders for two MA60 transport aircraft.