Pakistan & China’s JF-17 Fighter Program
January 24/19: F-7PG crashes as PAF seeks to replace it A fighter jet F7-PG crashed near Mastung, Pakistan while carrying out a training flight today. The F-7PG aircraft is based on the Soviet-era Mig-21 and built by a Chinese aircraft manufacturer. It holds a bad service record in PAF (Pakistan Air Force) service with the majority of recent crashes involving the aircraft. Pakistan is currently the largest non-Chinese F-7 operator, with roughly 120 F-7P and 60 F-7PG. The PAF seeks to replace its entire fleet of F-7 with the JF-17 multirole fighter. All F-7P are planned to be retired and replaced with the JF-17 Thunder aircraft by 2020. It is currently unknown what caused today’s crash. Air Headquarters has ordered the formation of a board of inquiry to investigate the incident.
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
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Background: JF-17 Thunder
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