Making its international debut here is this Chengdu/PAC JF-17 Thunder, a joint Chinese/Pakistani multi-role fighter project. Known in China as the FC-1 Xiaolong, the Thunder is now in series assembly at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex’s Kamra plant. The aircraft is powered by a Russian Klimov RD-93 engine and has a Chinese NRIET KLJ-7 radar. The JF-17s are here at Farnborough to promote the type for export, with several nations having expressed interest in an aircraft that provides good capability at a very reasonable price.|
Pakistan received eight low-rate production aircraft from Chengdu for trials from 2007, with PAC beginning assembly of an initial batch of 42 for the Pakistan air force in June 2009. Although China’s air force appears to be concentrating on Chengdu J-10 and Shenyang J-11 acquisition, the final total of JF-17s for the PAF is expected to reach at least 150 (possibly as many as 250) to replace Mirage III/5s, F-7s and Q-5s. Subsequent batches are likely to feature modifications such as Western avionics. The air force inducted its first frontline unit, No. 26 Squadron “Black Spiders,” on February 18 at Peshawar and expects a second to form on the type before the end of 2010.