Myanmar’s junta government, which has been condemned and sanctioned by the international community for overthrowing a democratically elected government and committing widespread human rights abuses, has sought refuge in China and Russia for military support.
To that end, Irrawaddy News reported that several FTC-2000G medium-range fighter jets had been ordered by the Myanmar Air Force from China, a major arms supplier to the Southeast Asian country.
According to the report, about eight Air Force pilots, eight technicians and at least two armaments officers traveled to China via Kunming in June. The development comes a week after the United States imposed additional sanctions on the junta government and associated individuals.
The pilots, who were part of the team that visited China earlier this year, are known for piloting the F-7 interceptor, the A-5 bomber and the K-8W trainer and light attack aircraft for the much-needed air force to fly from Myanmar to modernization.
The Myanmar Air Force’s aging F-7 and A-5 will be replaced by Beijing’s modern FTC-2000G jet fighters. It is important to note that Burma acquired both hunters from China.
In addition, Myanmar was the first country to purchase the JF-17 Thunder, a multirole fighter aircraft jointly produced by Pakistan and China in 2015.
According to people familiar with the acquisition of the new FTC-2000G jet, once the new planes are delivered to Myanmar, they are expected to be based at Namsang Air Force Base in Shan State.
China has not only armed fighters, but also Myanmar’s ground and naval forces openly and through other means. For example, the EurAsian Times previously reported that the Myanmar Navy had commissioned a diesel-electric submarine that had previously served with the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army of China.
To circumvent Beijing’s ban on certain arms purchases, Myanmar hoped to buy air-to-surface missiles from Pakistan for its JF-17 fighter jets earlier this year.
Reports in Indian media had suggested that the isolated country was in talks with Islamabad to buy 60mm and 81mm mortars, M-79 grenade launchers and heavy machine guns.
In addition to China, Russia is also preparing the Southeast Asian country for war.
In mid-July, Russia delivered the first two of six Sukhoi Su-30SME multirole fighter jets ordered by Myanmar. Moscow also sent several technicians and trainers to support the Myanmar Air Force throughout the warranty period.
After a coup, Myanmar jailed famous political figures such as Aung San Suu Kyi. He is accused of genocide against the Rohingya community in Rakhine State. The country is in a civil war-like situation, with the junta government using excessive force to decimate the opposition.
According to a report by Thomas Andrews, a former US congressman who serves as the nation’s independent human rights expert, Beijing supplied the military junta with fighter jets and armored vehicles. The arming of the junta military was carried out despite the knowledge that this armament was used to attack citizens and carry out full-blown genocide. The recent deal is therefore significant.
Myanmar’s acquisition of FTC-2000G
FTC-2000G is an advanced light multi-role trainer and fighter aircraft developed and manufactured by Guizhou Aviation Industry Corporation (GAIC) under the leadership of China State-owned Aerospace and Defense Enterprise Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
The aircraft is the export variant of the Guizhou JL-9, popularly known as the FTC-2000 trainer/combat aircraft, currently in service with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
The locally produced multi-role fighter aircraft can switch seamlessly between the role of a fighter jet and a trainer depending on mission requirements.
Up to seven hardpoints are integrated under the wings and fuselage section of the FTC-2000G aircraft to accommodate a variety of ammunition. The jet can be equipped with bombs, rockets and missiles. It can carry up to three tons of weapons in a single operation, which is quite an achievement.
The multi-role trainer/fighter also features electronic warfare tools and reconnaissance pods to take part in desired missions. Powered by a state-of-the-art next-generation engine, the FTC-2000G light multi-role trainer and fighter aircraft can fly at a top speed of 1,470 km/h (1.2 Mach). It can travel a distance of 1,650 kilometers without air supply.
The FTC-2000G aircraft provides armed forces with a formidable platform on the battlefield, combining training capabilities with attack and combat capabilities. It can replace the second-generation aircraft currently in service, including the Alpha Jet, FT-7 trainer, F-7 fighter jet and A-5 aircraft.
The aircraft conducts pilot flight training, air surveillance, patrol missions, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, close-range air support and air escort missions. As the Myanmar Air Force acquires new advanced fighter aircraft, it makes sense to purchase a trainer aircraft that can also perform combat duties.