China and Pakistan Push Chengdu JF-17 Fighter for Export
In the same week that the Chengdu JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft made its international debut at the Farnborough airshow, the product of this co-development between China and Pakistan was offered to Indonesia. The Pakistan Defence Minister signed a defense cooperation agreement with his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta. The list of countries that the Sino-Pakistan joint venture is targeting for sales is expanding fast: it reportedly also includes Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Congo, Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
At Farnborough, joint-venture partners Catic and PAC described the JF-17 as a multi-role light fighter with an “outstanding performance-to-cost ratio.” The two aircraft on display were ferried to Farnborough but did not fly during the show, and officials were reluctant to allow journalists into the cockpit to view the three multifunction displays plus head-up display, HOTAS (hands on throttle and stick) and other avionics. The aircraft were shown with PL-5II IR-guided air-to-air missiles on wingtip rails and ferry tanks on the centerline and inner wing stations, leaving the outer wing stations unloaded. Mockups of five Chinese stores were displayed next to the aircraft: a C802A anti-ship missile; an SD-10A active radar-guided air-to-air missile; an LS-6 glide bomb; a WMD-7 targeting pod; and a KG300G electronic warfare pod.
Program officials said that a development JF-17 is now flying in China with a Chinese-developed engine, presumably the WS-13 Taishan. All other JF-17s are powered by the Russian-supplied RD-93 turbofan. On the eve of Farnborough, a Russian newspaper reported the opposition of Sukhoi and MiG director-general Mikhail Pogosian to a further sale of RD-93s to China because the JF-17 is competing with the MiG-29 for export sales. At the show, however, Russian officials, including Pogosian, played down this concern.