On the first day of the Chinese New Year, the export of the JF-17 thunder was greeted with good news.Iraq’s defense minister confirmed in an interview that “Iraq will buy fighter jets from Pakistan”, adding another customer for jF-17.It had been rumored that Iraq would purchase 12 jF-17 jets from Pakistan.The official confirmation by The Iraqi Defense Minister indicates that an agreement has been reached for the jF-17 to enter service with the Iraqi Air Force in the near future.The Current Iraqi Air Force was built up by the United States after the Iraq War.The equipment is mainly made of U.S. aircraft. According to relevant data, the main combat aircraft of the Iraqi Air Force is 34 F-16IQ fighters.In response to Israeli concerns, however, the United States placed major restrictions on the Iraqi Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets, such as removing the ability to fire AIM-120 active radar-guided air-to-air missiles and replacing them with older AIM-7m semi-active radar-guided air-to-air missiles.It also relies on Lockheed Martin for technical support, and some technical work will be done by American personnel.As a result, the F-16s were in poor condition, with only about half of the aircraft operational on average, and as few as seven in the air at the lowest point.In this situation, the Iraqi Air Force began to look for other sources of combat aircraft, such as su-25 attack aircraft from Russia and Iran, F/A-50 attack trainer aircraft from South Korea, and even an-32 transport aircraft to convert to bombers.While these aircraft provide the immediate needs of the Iraqi air force, they have low air combat capabilities, cannot protect airspace, and lack precision strike and anti-ship capabilities.The Iraqi air Force decided it needed a new fighter that could fight over-the-horizon air combat, close combat, and drop precision-guided bombs and air-to-ground missiles on ground targets.Old enough to be strategically important in the Persian Gulf, the Iraqi air force wants it to be capable of carrying anti-ship missiles to surface targets.As early as 2014, the Iraqi Air Force paid attention to the JF-17 thunder. Members of the Iraqi Air Force once visited a Pakistani air base to learn about the fighter.They consider the jF-17 to be fully operational and at a very low price: the Nigerian Air Force’s contract for three JF-17 Block 2 fighter jets is worth $180 million, at an average combined cost of $60 million per aircraft (including weapons, pilot training and logistics support).The Iraqi Air Force has ordered 18 F-16IQ fighter jets at a cost of $4.2 billion, with a combined average cost of $230 million per aircraft, nearly four times that of the JF-17 thunder.What is even more unacceptable is that the JF-17 thunder is much more capable than the F-16IQ. For example, the JF-17 Thunder can launch SD-10A active radar-guided air-to-air missiles and anti-ship missiles, while the F-16IQ does not have these capabilities.Previously, the Iraqi air force was controlled by the United States and lacked autonomy.The Iraqi Air Force’s purchase of the fighter is in limbo because the United States has opposed Iraq’s purchase of Russian and Chinese weapons.The Iraqi Defense Minister’s public confirmation of the purchase of jF-17 shows that The Iraqi side has broken away from the CONTROL of the US and is determined to choose its own fighter jets.It is believed that the Iraqi Air Force may purchase JF-17 Block 3 fighter jets this time. Jf-17 block 3 fighter jets have a stronger combat capability than JF-17. It is equipped with KLJ-7A airborne active phased array radar, which has better detection capability and beyond visual range air combat capability.The airborne weapons are updated with PL-15E medium and long range air-to-air missiles and PL-10E infrared imaging guided combat air-to-air missiles, capable of countering foreign four-and-a-half generation fighters.It can launch laser-guided bombs, satellite-based guided bombs, small-diameter guided bombs, and stealth attack missiles outside the defense area for ground attack. It also has the C-802AK anti-ship missile and CM-400AKG air-launched anti-ship missile, leaving the F-16IQ far behind in its comprehensive combat capability.Qatar’s air Force also has plans to purchase jF-17, indicating that jF-17 is opening up the Middle East market.As high-end customers in the world’s weapons market, the JF-17 thunder has high requirements for combat aircraft. The jF-17 thunder’s entry into the Middle East market is of exemplary significance, paving the way for the expansion of other regional markets.