Pakistan & China’s JF-17 Fighter Program
November 17/16: Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has said it will open up to allow the private defense sector to participate in programs such as the JF-17 Thunder fighter and Super Mushshak trainer. As well as looking for new design and development programs for upgrades to the aircraft, PAC is also entertaining the possibility of allowing collaboration on the manufacture of propulsion and industrial gas turbines. Benefits of opening up the domestic industry include using public funds that otherwise would have gone abroad as domestic stimulus and making it easier for foreign vendors to pick private firms in matters involving sensitive technology intellectual property, which could make transfer-of-technology and expertise easier to negotiate.
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 – 2017
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1999 – 2009
Background: JF-17 Thunder
Background: Aircraft Ancillaries
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