Pakistan & China’s JF-17 Fighter Program
August 14/19: Skardu Air Base Indian media reports that Intelligence Agencies have spotted at least three Pakistan Air Force transport aircraft C-130 bringing equipment to Skardu Air Base. Pakistan is expected to deploy JF-17 fighter aircraft at Skardu Air Base. The Intelligence Agencies are keeping a close watch on the activity at the Base. In the past, Pakistan has used the Air Base to support its Army operations on the border with India. It has been one week since the Narendra Modi government made moves to end special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories and the situation between India and Pakistan is tense.
The FC-1/ JF-17 Thunder is a joint Chinese-Pakistani project that aimed to reduce Pakistan’s dependence on western firms for advanced fighters, by fielding a low-cost multi-role lightweight fighter that can host modern electronics and precision-guided weapons. It isn’t a top-tier competitor, but it represents a clear step up from Pakistan’s Chinese MiG-19/21 derivatives and French Mirage III/V fighters. This positioning addresses a budget-conscious, “good enough” performance market segment that the West once dominated, but has nearly abandoned in recent decades.
Pakistan has fielded JF-17s in squadron strength, with more on order and a Block II R&D program nearing completion. India’s competing Tejas fighter is overcoming project delays by looking to foreign component sources, but Pakistan and China remain out front with their offering, even though they began their project much later than India did. Pakistan and China have even set up a joint JF-17 marketing agency to promote export sales, which hasn’t paid off as quickly as they had hoped, but it would be unwise to count them out just yet…
The JF-17 Thunder, aka. FC-1 Fierce Dragon
JF-17/FC-1: The Program
Stuck in Sichuan: The Saga
Updates and Key Events
2015 – 2019
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1999 – 2009
Background: JF-17 Thunder
Background: Aircraft Ancillaries
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