JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Fighter

China and Pakistan developed the JF-17 (Joint Fighter-17) together back in 1999. A large part of the development took place in Chengdu, China, while the cost was split between the two countries equally. The Russian Mikoyan was also reported to have contributed to the development of this aircraft. The aircraft finally made its first flight in 2003 with Fighter China-1 (FC-1 Xialong) as its Chinese official designation. First, 8 units were taken to Pakistan in a period of 2007-2008. The order was increased to 42 units in 2009. The aircraft was license-produced under the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. There have been 60 units operating with Pakistan Air Force. Estimation for total units required by Pakistan is 250 fighters, given that Pakistan currently uses a number of aging aircraft that is primed for replacement. The JF-17 was included as part of the aircraft intended for developing countries that seek to replace their old and aging fighters. Azerbaijan ordered 26 units for their own air force. The aerodynamic layout of this aircraft is considered conventional. It comes with Russian turbofan engine of Klimov RD-93, with afterburner. The engine is a modification of the RD-33 engine used on MiG-23. In 2007, under a contract, as many as 150 RD-93 engines were supplied to Pakistan for the JF-17. China, on the other hand, is currently developing their own version of turbofan engine based on RD-93.

JF-17 Thunder Multi-Role Fighter

Entered service 2007
Crew 1 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 14 m
Wing span 8.5 m
Height 5.1 m
Weight (empty) 6.4 t
Weight (maximum take off) 12.7 t
Engines and performance
Engines 1 x Klimov RD-93
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 49.4 / 84.4 kN
Maximum speed ~ 2 200 km/h
Service ceiling 16.7 km
Ferry range 3 000 km
Combat radius 1 350 km
Cannon 1 x 23-mm / 30-mm
Missiles PL-12 medium-range; PL-7, PL-8, PL-9, AIM-9P short-range
Bombs general purpose or laser-guided bombs

The aircraft delivered to Pakistan come with Italian Grifo Doppler radar of S-7 multi-track multimode pulse variety. Other types of radar can also be fitted on the aircraft. Later production with see upgrades on their avionics systems. The JF-17 is designed to support air defense and undergo attack missions. It is equipped with twin-barrel cannon, either of single 23 mmGSh-23 variety or GSh-30 one. It has a maximum weapon payload of 3.7 t.

The aircraft has five hardpoints and two wingtips, either for missiles or for fuel tanks. Its attack capability is beyond visual range. For the primary weapon, it uses Chinese PL-12/SD-10 air-to-air missiles of medium range, complete with active radar assistance. It is also fitted with short-range Chinese PL-7, PL-8, PL-9, or US-AIM-9P, mounted on its wingtip rails. In addition, the aircraft can also carry laser-guided bombs. However, it misses the capability of in-flight refueling. An improved version of the aircraft entered production in 2013. Improvements included systems of countermeasures as well as the capability if in-flight refueling.

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