Saudi Arabia planning procurement of JF-17 Thunder, Mashshaks, says Saudi air chief

General Muhammad bin Saleh Al Qtaibi, commander of Royal Saudi Air Force, has said that his country is exploring hefty procurement from Pakistan JF-17 Thunder multi-role planes and Super Mashshak trainers for its air force.

In a brief chat with The News here on Sunday evening at the residence of Saudi Ambassador Abdullah Marzouk Al-Zahrani in the Diplomatic Enclave, he said that Pakistan is producing state-of-the-art equipment for defence use. He lauded the standard of Pakistan’s armed forces training and their commitment with their assignment.

General Muhammad bin Saleh, who is the first-ever Saudi air chief visiting Pakistan, said that he was greatly impressed by the working of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). The ambassador hosted a dinner in the honour of visiting air chief of his country and it was also attended by host Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman and other senior officials. The two air chiefs later had an exchange of souvenirs. The Saudi air chief will visit the PAF installations, air bases and have talks with the sister air force before returning home tomorrow (Tuesday).

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Earlier on arrival, he was received by ACM Sohail Aman at the Nur Khan base at Chaklala. General Qtaibi has been invited by his Pakistani counterpart ACM Sohail Aman. The Saudi Air Force is interested in undertaking joint exercises with Pakistan and intends to purchase defence equipment from Pakistan. It is likely that all subjects of mutual interest would come under discussion during the stay of the Saudi general in Pakistan. The Saudi air chief will also call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad.

The PAF is attaching significance to the visit of the Saudis. The air chief of Pakistan visited Saudi Arabia at the invitation of General Saleh Al-Qtaibi in April this year and was warmly received in the kingdom. A royal protocol was given to him. He discussed matters of professional and mutual interest there. The air chief expressed satisfaction over the mutual cooperation between the two air forces and offered all training facilities to the Royal Saudi Air Force. He also shared the PAF’s experience of fighting against extremists in the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azab.

The Saudis appreciated the high standards of professionalism set by the PAF and highlighted the need for learning from each other’s experience. The air chief also visited the King Faisal Air Academy and met the PAF instructors and ground crew of Mushshak aircraft, who are deputed to Saudi Arabia.

The air chief lauded the PAF contingent for their valuable services and advised them to work as ambassadors of Pakistan in the brotherly country. The sources said the Saudi air chief had planned to visit facilities in Islamabad, Risalpur, Peshawar and Karachi.

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