Pakistan & China’s JF-17 Fighter Program
March 13/19: Successful Test-Firing The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) successfully test-fired an indigenously developed range smart weapon from JF-17 multi-role fighter aircraft. The JF-17 Thunder is a single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China. The PAF inducted its first JF-17 squadron in February 2010. The Thunder was part of media attention during recent hostility between Pakistan and India. It was recently reported by CNN that a JF-17 fighter jet brought down an Indian warplane in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The report contradicted Indian claims that Pakistan used F-16s to down Indian planes.
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 – 2018
2010 – 2014
1999 – 2009
Background: JF-17 Thunder
Background: Aircraft Ancillaries
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