Pakistan & China’s JF-17 Fighter Program
December 12/18: Iran & Malaysia show interest An article by Defense World suggests that Iranian and Malaysian military officials may buy Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder. Some talks were held on the sidelines of the IDEAS 2018 aerospace exhibition, which took place in Karachi late last month. The exhibition was attended by Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) General Qasem Soleiman and Malaysian Royal Air Force Chief General Dato’ Affendi. The JF-17 is a Pakistani fighter jet with Chinese parts. The Thunder is a single engine, lightweight, multipurpose combat aircraft that can host modern electronics and precision-guided weapons. It costs $20 million per unit. Malaysia first voiced interest buying the jet in April 2018 during the Defence Services Asia (DSA) expo held in Kuala Lumpur.
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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