Pakistan & China’s JF-17 Fighter Program
February 11/16: The Emir of Qatar will witness a display of the PAF JF-17 fighters as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visits the country this week. A contingent from the Pakistan Air Force are in Doha preparing for the display, as Sharif, along with a high-level delegation, visits to commence a series of diplomatic talks. Areas where both Qatar and Pakistan may improve bilateral relations include energy cooperation, trade and investment, employment opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Qatar, and in various defense related fields. While a number of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) are expected to be signed, an order for the JF-17 may be a bit premature as Qatar awaits the long delayed deal of Rafale fighters from Dassault.
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 – 2016
2010 – 2014
1999 – 2009
Background: JF-17 Thunder
Background: Aircraft Ancillaries
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