Monday, November 14, 2011

China-Pakistan JF-17 Fighter ready for Block-2 Upgrades

The JF-17 Thunder fighter, co-developed by China’s Avic and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), is to receive improvements that will start being produced with the Block-2 version from next year.

The enhancements will effect the data link and electronic warfare capabilities. An air-to-air re refueling capability will be added, as will be new guided weapons. A two-seat variant is being developed, too. The current program schedule calls for the Pakistan-based factory to deliver the JF-17 Block-2 to the PAF from mid-2012 to 2015. Then, a Block-3 version is planned from 2016. Block-1 aircraft are being delivered until the middle of next year.

PAF Air Chief Marshall Rao Qamar Suleiman said marketing efforts focus on those countries needing to replace old fighters such as the MiG-21, early Mirage, F-5 and Phantom types. The program’s target export countries can be found in Latin America, Africa and Asia. “We offer performance comparable to U.S. and European fighters when it comes to radar, dogfight missile, range and BVR [beyond visual range] capabilities, for one third of the cost,” Suleiman claimed.

So far, five countries are said to have taken a close look at the aircraft. China itself is currently evaluating the JF-17 and a decision is expected “shortly.” Avic and the PAF expect to sell “between 300 and 500 JF-17s” over the next 10 years.

The in-service fleet has logged a total of 10,000 flight hours with the PAF. In China, the JF-17 is also known as the FC-1 Xiaolong.


Qasim said...

I think that a huge factor in PLAAF's evaluation(to induct the JF-17/FC-1/J-9) as well as foreign sales, is the Russian-origin RD-93 engine.

Russia would NOT be keen on having the JF-17 participate in international tenders, where Russian aircraft are competing as well. It costs less and actually offers superior performance in some areas. Mikhail Pogosyan of MiG&Sukhoi Holding already went public saying Russia should block RD-93 sales, as this aircraft is "extremely close" in performance to the MiG-29 but costs less. While the JF-17 is a smaller aircraft with lesser range and hardpoints than the MiG, it's a much more modern development, and it's BVR capability(SD-10A/B) exceeds the MiG's(R-77). Block-II is rumoured to have an AESA radar as well, an additional advantage over Russian offerings.

That's where an alternate turbofan is very important. China's indigenous WS-13A TaiShan turbofan could be critical in enabling foreign sales without Russian meddling. And given the frequent headaches China's had with Russians due to AL-31s powering J-10As(it was reported that Russia charged more, in the latest engine deal, as well as headaches over "intellectual rights" and end-user agreements), China would probably prefer to induct FC-1s with it's own powerplant as well.

Ghufran Ali Quresh said...

What upgrades exactly ? Does anyone know for sure ?

rizwanazizleo said...

Its really great to see that Pakistan and China are regularly updating JF-17. Lets hope its fifth generation version will arrive soon. JF-17