The Joint Fighter-17 (JF-17) Thunder, or Fighter China-1 (FC-1) Fierce Dragon (in China), is a single-seat multirole fighter aircraft co-developed by Pakistan and China.
The JF-17 is designed to further meet the tactical and strategic needs of the Pakistani Air Force with a minimal reliance on imports from other countries.
In addition, the requirement was for the aircraft to have sufficient space for future upgrades and/or equipment specified by export buyers. The JF-17 is considered to be in the "high-tech class" of fighter aircraft.
The JF-17 is being built by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC)and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). Initial reports claimed that the aircraft was based on the design of the MiG-33, a proposed single-engined version of the MiG-29, which was rejected by the Soviet Air Force.
However, the FC-1/JF-17 is instead derived from the "Super Seven" project, not the Project 33 (not to be confused with the MiG-33) or the failed Chengdu J-9. Indications are that MiG assisted the program by contributing their light fighter design as well as providing additional design & development assistance.
Pakistan has announced that it will procure 150 but, numbers can easily go up to 200. The JF-17 will replace the MiG-21-derived Chengdu F-7. Other countries which have expressed interest in purchasing the JF-17 are Egypt, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Burma, Zimbabwe, Morocco and Algeria.
The first prototype was rolled out on 31 May 2003, conducted its first taxi trials on 1 July, and made its first flight on 24 August of the same year.
The prototype 03 made its first flight in April 2004. On April 28 2006, the prototype 04 made its first flight with fully operational avionics.
Not to mention the most visible change, the DSI (divergent supersonic intake).
Initially, Pakistan wanted to use the Italian Grifo-S7 radar.
However, the Chinese offer had some key advantages over the Italian one, such as compatibility with Chinese weapon systems.
Radar has multiple modes, such as A2A (both BVR & close), air-to-ground, air-to-sea, etc., with strong anti-interference capacity.
It has all the standard electronic warfare systems, such as radar warning, missile approach warning, etc.
All weapon systems are designed to be compatible with both Western systems (ie. supporting MIL-STD-1760 data bus) and Russian systems (and Chinese systems also).
At present, its standard missiles are the PL-9C for WVR combat and SD-10 BVRAAM for BVR combat. However, it also supports the AIM-9L/M Sidewinder, AIM-7F Sparrow. It is reported that Pakistan Air Fo
rce JF-17s will also be able to use South African air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions such as T-Darter (BVRAAM), A-Darter (WVRAAM), DPGM (Precision Guided Bomb), as well as Raptor-I and Raptor II long-range glide bombs.
Specifications JF-17 Thunder
Max payload (fuel and weapons): 7,063 kg