Fighters II

Together with J-20/21 (4th generation), J-10B/C and J-11D (3.5th generation) will replace the remaining J-7/8 series as well as the original Su-27 fighters and form the backbone of Chinese fighter force in a new high-low combination during the first half of the 21st century. It was first rumored in late 2012 that China ordered 24 Su-35Ss from Russia for $1.5b but this has not been confirmed. 

J-10/10A Vigorous Dragon/Firebird

A PLAAF J-10A was photographed while carrying training rounds of PL-8 and PL-12 AAMs. J-10 (K/JJ10?) is a multi-functional single-engine fighter being developed by Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) and 611 Institute. It has been selected by PLAAF as the next generation fighter to replace the obsolete J-7 fighter and Q-5 attack aircraft. The aircraft appears to have an Su-27 style nose and rectangular air intake, an AL-31F type engine, twin nose wheels, and a distinct low-visibility camouflage color scheme. The aircraft also has a large vertical tail plus twin F-16 style ventral stabilizers believed to provide greater stability at high AoA. Its fuselage looks considerably longer compared to Israeli Lavi. Unlike J-7E with double-delta wings, it appears to have a pair of inverted gull wings (i.e. the inner upper portion extends slightly downward, while the outer portion extends flat). The J-10 project was conceived in the 1984 based on the experience (tailless delta wing and canard foreplanes) with J-9 which was cancelled in 1980 in favor of the less risky J-7C/MIG-21MF project. An early model of J-10 revealed a Mirage 2000 style intake with a center shock cone for better high speed performance and a Lavi style tail section, suggesting a possible connection with the cancelled Israeli fighter (however this was firmly denied by both parties). The change indicates that J-10 has gone through at least one major redesign in its 18-year development period from the initial conventional layout as an air-superiority fighter to the latest semi-stealthy design as a multi-role fighter. This change may reflect a shift of its potential adversaries from former Soviet Mig-29/Su-27 to current American F-15/16/18 after end of the Cold War. The new design is certainly fitted with advanced avionics including a "glass cockpit" (1 wide-angle HUD + 2 monochrome MFD + 1 color MFD), HMS, HOTAS, GPS/INS, air data computer, ARW9101A RWR, Type 634 digital quadruplex FBW, digital fuel management system, mission management system, ARINC429 databus, and a detachable IFR probe. A new PD fire-control radar (Type 1473, search >120km, track 4-6, engage 2 simultaneously) is also fitted, which was based on Israeli EL/M 2035 radar for its cancelled Lavi fighter. A variety of newly developed air-to-air (e.g. PL-8 short-range IR guided AAM and PL-12 medium-range active radar guided AAM) and air-to-surface weapons can be carried under 11 hardpoints including KD-88 TV guided ASMs, LS-500J LGBs and K/JDC01 FLIR/laser designator pod. A new twin-rail missile launch pylon was developed to increase the total number of PL-12 MRAAMs it can carry from 2 to 4. Although it was believed to be powered initially by a 27,560lb/12,500kg thrust AL-31FN turbofan, a modified AL-31F which powers Su-27/J-11, Russia reportedly had denied China the license to produce the engine locally. As the result, an indigenous engine (WS-10) will be fitted later on its improved version (J-10B, see below). Some western military analysts believed that J-10 could pose a serious challenge to F/A-18C in terms of maneuverability. Some specifications of J-10 are (estimated): length 16.4m, height 5.4m, wingspan 9.8m, normal TO weight 12,400kg, max TO weight 18,600kg, internal fuel 4,500kg, max external load 6,600kg, g load +9/-3, max speed Mach 2.0 (high altitude)/Mach 1.2 (1,450km/h @ sea level), TO distance 400m, combat radius 1,100km, static ceiling 18,000m, ferry range 3,200km. The development of J-10 has not been smooth. A full-scale mock-up was built in 1991. The first prototype was set to fly in 1996, powered by a newly developed WS-10 turbofan based on the CFM56 engine core technology. However the development of this indigenous engine suffered serious difficulties and thus the rear fuselage and engine intake were forced to be redesigned in order to accommodate an alternative AL-31FN engine imported from Russia. After a 15-month delay, the first prototype (01/1001) was rolled out in June 1997. It made its maiden flight on March 23, 1998, two years behind the schedule. 6 prototypes (serial numbers 1002-1009) were built undergoing various static and flight tests at CAC in Chengdu and at the CFTE in Yanliang. Subsequently 3 more prototypes were built (1013-1016) as the project was moving into the pre-production phase while PLAAF remained fully committed. The flight test of J-10 was completed by the end of 2003 and the serial production started earlier that year. Approximately two are being produced each month, depending on the supply of AL-31FN engine from Russia. A total of 300 have been planned. The first J-10 in production standard flew on June 28, 2002. The initial batches of 50 (54 AL-31FNs were imported between 2002 and 2004) have been produced by CAC, wearing a new gray/light blue paint scheme. Currently the production continues at a rate of 2-4 per month. The first 9 (?) were delivered to the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Base for evaluation starting from February 2003. After some delay due the problems of fire-control system, J-10 was finally certified by the end of 2003. The first J-10 regiment was established in 2004 in the PLAAF 44th Division stationed in Yunnan Province facing India. Around 100 may have been produced by 2006 (01-03 batch, S/N 50x5x, 10x4x, 10x3x, 10x2x, 20x0x). J-10 was officially declassified on December 29, 2006. Some improvements have been made during the production, including a WL-9 radio compass antenna dish behind the canopy. A tandem-seat trainer version (J-10S) has been developed too (see below). Further improved variants including J-10A (improved glass cockpit and fire control radar/1473G? able to fire 4 PL-12 AAMs) and J-10B (JF-17 style cockpit, IRST/LR, AESA radar, DSI engine intake, RAM coating) have been developed. Currently J-10A is in service with PLAAF (04 batch, S/N 50x5x, 30x5x, 20x6x, 78x1x). The August 1 Aerobatic Demonstration Team also flies J-10AY (05 batch) to replace the old J-7GB. Recent images confirmed that PLAN is receiving its first batch of J-10As (06 batch, dubbed J-10AH, S/N 83x4x) which have been deployed at the eastern China coast facing Japan. They could be modified to carry YJ-83K AShMs in the future. The last batch of J-10As (07 batch) were produced for both the existing as well as new J-10 units (S/N 20x3x) by early 2014. The production is being switched to J-10B (see below).
- Last Updated 4/30/14


J-10S Vigorous Dragon/Firebird

A PLAAF J-10S (K/JJ10S/JJ-10?) advanced trainer was taking off (S: tandem). This version features a stretched forward fuselage and a bubble canopy which can be opened as a single piece. An excellent 360° outside view in the rear cockpit is clearly shown in the photo. Its dorsal spine appears to have been enlarged to accommodate electronics displaced by the rear cockpit. In addition to being a trainer for J-10 pilots, J-10S could also be converted into an attack aircraft or EW/Wild Weasel anti-radiation aircraft, where it might carry Blue Sky low altitude navigation pod (similar to American LANTIRN pod), laser designation pod, as well as LS-500J LGBs and KD-88 ASMs. First Flight of 01 prototype took place on December 26, 2003. Two prototypes (01/1021 & 03/1023) were built undergoing various flight tests. J-10S passed the state certification in late 2005 and has entered service with PLAAF (S/N 10x4x, 50x5x, 10x3x, 20x0x, 20x6x, 30x5x, 78x1x, 20x3x, 73x5x). In addition, the August 1 Aerobatic Demonstration Team has been flying J-10SY since mid-2010. In late 2010 the first batch of J-10Ss are entering the service with PLAN (dubbed J-10SH? S/N 83x4x) along with J-10As. The latest image (March 2014) indicated that the latest batch of J-10S has a new dorsal datalink antenna installed similar to the one onboard JH-7A.
- Last Updated 3/16/14

J-10B/C Vigorous Dragon/Firebird

The latest 1035 prototype of the J-10B (K/JJ10B?) was photographed at CAC airfield in July 2011, revealing the indigenous WS-10B (?) turbofan engine. This much improved variant made its maiden flight on December 23, 2008, powered by a Russian AL-31FN engine (1031 prototype). The improvements include a DSI/bump engine inlet which not only cuts weight but also reduces RCS, after a similar design was first tested onboard FC-1/JF-17. The aircraft also features a J-11B style IRST/LR, a JF-17 style glass cockpit with a wide-angle holographic HUD, and an HMDS. The new IRST allows passive detection of enemy aircraft, making J-10B more stealthy in combat. Its nose appears flatter too, similar to that of American F-16, housing fire-control radar which could be an X-band AESA developed by the 14th Institute (track 10, engage 4 simultaneously), the first of such type ever being developed for a Chinese fighter aircraft, giving J-10B a stronger multi-target engagement and ECCM capability. It was rumored that initially the aircraft was planned to fit a PESA radar developed by the 607 Institute but in the end this proposal was rejected by PLAAF in favor of an AESA radar. An ECM antenna can also be seen right in front of the canard foreplane on 1035. Two large pods housing testing equipments were attached under the wings. The tip of vertical tailfin was redesigned as well, featuring a large fairing containing communication and ECM antennas, which resembles that of French Mirage 2000. A rear facing MAWS sensor can be seen underneath the parachute boom. A similar system was tested onboard FC-1/JF-17. RAM coating is also expected in certain areas such as engine inlet and wing leading edges to reduce RCS. All these improvements suggest that J-10B is equipped with a new generation of integrated electronic system, ranging from radar to EW system. Its mission may be changed from air-superiority to multi-role, such as CAS or EW. For air-superiority mission, normally 6 AAMs (PL-12x4 + PL-8x2, PL-12s are carried underneath the twin-rail launch pylon) can be carried. For CAS mission, normally 2 KD-88 AGMs or LS-500J LGBs can be carried. In addition, the aircraft is expected to be powered eventually by a WS-10B turbofan after its reliability issues have been resolved. Overall J-10B is thought to be comparable to American F-16E/Block 60. The 03 prototype (1033) first flew in August 2009, with the pitot tube removed from the nose tip. Both 1031 & 1034 prototypes have been tested at CFTE. J-10B is likely to serve as a testbed for various advanced technologies adopted by the 4th generation J-20 currently under development at CAC thus may not enter the service in large quantity with PLAAF. Recent images (March 2013) indicated that the 1031 prototype has been modified with ECM antennas installed ahead of the canard foreplanes similar to those onboard 1035, which represents the final configuration before the production. The production of J-10B finally started in 2013 after some delay, due to the availability of a suitable engine. The latest images (July 2014) indicated the 01 batch have been produced and are preparing for the delivery, possibly to the PLAAF Flight Test & Training Base. Meanwhile it was first rumored in June 2013 that a further upgraded semi-stealth multi-role variant (J-10C) with enhanced 4th generation electronics including a more powerful AESA radar, more composite material and a more powerful engine was under development. The J-10C #2-01 prototype took to the sky for the first time on December 31, 2013. The aircraft appears to have high similarity with J-10B except for a small yellow antenna ahead of its vertical tailfin. It was reported by Salut in April 2014 that the first batch of production J-10Bs would be powered by Russian AL-31FN Series-3 engines with a slightly improved performance.
 - Last Updated 8/2/14

Su-27SK/J-11/11A Flanker

A PLAAF J-11 (K/JJ11?) was was taking off carrying an R-77 AAM underneath the centerline hardpoint. It is also decorated with five red stars beneath the canopy indicating the number of victories during exercise. A total three batches of Su-27s were imported. The first batch of 26 (20 SK & 6 UBK, S: serial, K: commercial, $32m each) were acquired starting 1992. The second batch of 24 (16 Su-27SK and 6 Su-27UBK) were acquired starting 1996. The third batch of 28 Su-27UBKs ($35m each) were acquired starting 2000 to speed up the training of qualified pilots. This heavy air-superiority fighter, combined with up to 10 AA-10 (R-27T1/R1, IR/SAR homing to 30/35km), AA-11 (R-73, IR homing to 15km) AAMs, NSts-27 HMS and Gardeniya wingtip ECM pods, gave PLAAF for the first time a truly offensive capability both in long-range BVR attack and short-range dog fight. Its N001 radar can track ten and engage one target at a time. The third batch UBKs are believed to have the improved N001VE radar installed which is able to engage two targets simultaneously using R-27 and the R-77 active radar homing AAM. Chinese Su-27/J-11s were also seen participating in attacking ground targets using unguided rockets and free-fall bombs. However this has raised doubts among some western observers over the soundness of risking such high value assets to fly the dangerous ground attack mission. In a shocking accident, 5 Su-27s were seriously damaged during a typhoon in 1998. A few more are believed to have been lost during the years of service. They were first replaced by the imported Su-27s from Russia then later by locally assembled J-11s from Shenyang. More significantly, a $1.2 billion contract to license-build 200 Su-27s (under the designation of J-11 domestic use only, no exports) at Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) was reached in late 1995 and finalized at the end of 1996. Nevertheless this co-production plan would inevitably cost much of the limited resource available to PLAAF and to Chinese aviation industry, thus may have made some negative impact on other indigenous fighter projects, such as J-10. The first two J-11s rolled out in December 1998 using the kit supplied by KnAAPO but were reported to have suffered QC problems. An annual production rate between 15 and 20 was achieved by 2003. A total of 95 kits were delivered from KnAAPO by summer 2004. The use of domestically made parts will begin after the first 60 are assembled using Russian kits and eventually 60-70% of the parts will be manufactured in China (excluding AL-31F engine, which was denied by Russia for the license). J-11 was later upgraded with Russian assistance which features two color MFDs in the cockpit replacing the old monochrome radar scope. One normally serves as a digital moving map display (coupled with GPS). The aircraft can also fire the newly acquired R-27RE1 SARH AAM with an extended range of 66km. This variant (dubbed J-11A?) first flew in December 1999. Recent images indicated that J-11A can also fire the actively guided R-77, suggesting an improved fire-control system with new software and hardware. This may have been the result of assistance from Ukraine or Belarus. A further upgraded variant dubbed J-11B was developed as well (see below). The first phase production concluded by the end of 2006 after a total of 105 J-11s were produced in 4 batches. The production has been switched to J-11B in the subsequent phase. The latest image (April 2014) indicated that some J-11s have been upgraded with an additional ECM antenna behind the cockpit as well as an MLS antenna on the vertical tailfin.
- Last Updated 4/27/14

J-11B Flanker

A PLAAF J-11B (K/JJ11B?) was landing carrying PL-8 and PL-12 AAMs underneath its wings. This demonstrates Chinese effort to integrate their own weapon systems into a classic Russian design in order to further boost its combat capability and survivability. Their effort includes a Chinese multifunction PD radar (Type 1493? search >150km, track 6-8, engage 4 simultaneously) and ARINC429 data bus compatible with PL-8, PL-12, and the newest PL-15 AAM, a Chinese made IRST/LR, as well as a redesigned glass cockpit featuring 5 MFDs and a new wide-angle holographic HUD. A new Chinese ECM system was installed internally thus the wingtip ECM pods are no longer needed. The aircraft also has a new UV band missile approach warning system (MAWS). Two sensors are installed on both sides of the tail sting to provide coverage for the rear hemisphere. There were rumors suggesting the J-11B is actually equipped with an AESA radar but this has not been confirmed. Its weight has been reduced by 700kg by using composite materials at various places. The AL-31F engine has been replaced by the indigenous WS-10A. One WS-10A (Taihang 13,200kg class) turbofan was successfully tested on a CFTE J-11WS engine testbed in June 2002. The first J-11B prototype powered by WS-10A flew in 2004. 3 prototypes were tested at CFTE (#523-525), each has different configurations to test individual subsystems in order to speed up the development. At least one prototype (#524) was involved in the takeoff experiments from a land-based ski-jump for the J-15 carrier-borne fighter project (see below). The first batch of J-11B entered the service with PLAAF 1st Division (S/N 10x2x) in late 2007. However the initial batch of J-11Bs powered by the indigenous WS-10A turbofans were quickly grounded due to the poor quality of the engine. Subsequent batches were forced to be powered by Russian AL-31F turbofans until WS-10A's reliability problem was solved. Recent images (December 2009) suggested that the engine quality problem has been solved and the aircraft (02 batch?) has started to fly with WS-10As installed. Currently more J-11Bs are entering the service with PLAAF (S/N 31x0x, 40x1x, 40x3x, 60x5x, 70x0x, 72x2x, 78x6x), powered by WS-10A engines. In spring 2010 PLAN started to receive land-based J-11Bs (as J-11BH?), wearing a light gray camouflage (S/N 81x8x, 81x9x, 83x8x). There has been a rumor that a further improved variant (J-11D?) in the same class of American F/A-18E is being developed at 601/SAC.  Its AESA radar and FBW systems are thought to be based those of J-16. It might also borrow certain features from J-21 in order to reduce its RCS but this has not been confirmed. First flight is speculated to be in 2014. Currently the AESA radar (to be equipped by J-16 as well) is being tested onboard a J-11B radar testbed.
- Last Updated 8/12/14


J-11BS Flanker

One of the first batch of navalized J-11BS (K/JJ11BS?) fighter trainers was seen parked at the SAC airfield before its delivery to PLAN. Based on J-11B, this tandem-seat trainer version is also powered by two WS-10A turbofan engines and features similar indigenous avionics. The first prototype was built by the end of 2007. The aircraft is believed to feature a new indigenous digital FBW system which suffered some reliability problems initially. It was rumored that one J-11BS prototype (#532?) crashed during a test flight at CFTE in 2009. Additional prototypes (#533) have been flying at CFTE. J-11BS was reportedly to have been certified in May 2010. Previous speculations suggesting J-11BS as a fighter bomber turned out to be inaccurate (see J-16). Currently J-11BS is in service with PLAAF (S/N 10x2x, 10x8x, 31x0x, 40x3x, 70x0x, 72x2x), which has replaced some of the old Su-27UBKs. Meanwhile PLAN ordered a few J-11BSs (J-11BSH? S/N 81x8x, 81x9x) as well to train its J-11BH pilots.
- Last Updated 8/12/14

J-15/15S Flying Shark/Flanker

The first J-15 production model #100 was landing at the SAC airfield. J-15 (K/JJ15?) is the first generation of Chinese carrier-borne fighter aircraft being developed by both 601 Institute and SAC for PLAN's first generation of aircraft carriers including Liaoning. Initially there were rumors claiming that J-15 was a new semi-stealth design based on a similar but more advanced stealth design developed earlier by SAC/601 Institute to compete for the J-20 project. In order to save time and cut cost, the aircraft turned out to be based on Russian Su-33 in terms of structural configuration and flight control system as well as domestic J-11B (see above) in terms of radar and weapon systems. Similar to Su-33, J-15 features enlarged folding wings/horizontal tailfins, strengthened landing gears with twin nose wheels, an arresting hook, a pair of small canard foreplanes to improve its low speed handling and shortened tailcone to avoid tail-strike during high AoA landing. Composite materials are used in certain areas such as vertical tailfins to reduce weight. Some key shipborne aircraft technologies such as landing/navigational systems are believed to have been obtained from Russia and Ukraine. The aircraft also features a retractable IFR probe on the port side and can carry a Russian UPAZ-1A buddy refueling pod under the centerline station. This enables J-15 to take off with a full weapon load and fly a long-range attack/interception mission via inflight refueling from another dedicated J-15 tanker. One Su-33 prototype (T-10K-3) was acquired from Ukraine around 2001 and has been studied extensively. Some components onboard J-15 are based on those onboard J-11B, such as the glass cockpit, MAWS sensors on the tail sting as well as the improved WS-10H turbofan engine with a higher TO thrust (12,800kg) and better acceleration in order to achieve full-load taking off from the ski-jump. Its fire-control radar is thought to be based on the Type 1493 PD radar with enhanced air-to-sea capability. It can also fire a variety of Chinese designed precision weapons, including PL-8, PL-12, even PL-15 AAMs, KD-88 ASM, YJ-83K AShM and YJ-91 ARM. There was a rumor that J-15 is able to carry the new YJ-12 supersonic AShM under its centerline station but this has not been confirmed. Overall J-15 is believed to be in the same class of American F/A-18C and thus more versatile than Su-33. The aircraft is expected to be stationed onboard the aircraft carrier Liaoning just entering the service with PLAN. Some specifications (estimated): max speed Mach 2.17, max combat radius 1,270km, weapon load 6.5t. The first prototype was assembled at SAC in 2008. It made the maiden flight on August 31, 2009, powered by two Russian AL-31F turbofan engines. The first takeoff from a land based simulated ski-jump occurred on May 6, 2010 at CFTE. Additional J-15 prototypes (#554 & 557?) were seen wearing a light naval blue color scheme and powered by two WS-10H engines. However the WS-10H onboard #554 were later replaced by the navalized AL-31F. At least 7 prototypes (S/N 551-557) have been undergoing various tests on the simulated flight decks on land, mostly powered by Russian AL-31F/AL-31F-sep3 turbofans. It started to practice touch-and-go landings on the deck of Liaoning during her recent sea trials since summer 2012. J-15 is expected to see limited production and deployment since its technology is no longer state of the art. The next generation carrier-based stealth fighter design was rumored to be under development at 611 Institute (based on J-20?) but this has not been confirmed. A twin-seat trainer version  (dubbed J-15S) has been under development too. Its prototype first took off from SAC airfield on November 3, 2012. Similar to J-16 for PLAAF, J-15S could evolve into a dedicated naval multi-role attack/EW aircraft in the same class of American F/A-18F and EA-18G. It was reported that on November 23,  2012 J-15 prototypes #552 and 553 landed and took off officially for the first time on Liaoning, marking a concrete step for both J-15 and the aircraft carrier to achieve full operational status. J-15 prototypes were seen conducting taking off and landing tests onboard Liaoning carrying various air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons in September 2013. Recent images (December 2013) indicated that the first batch of production J-15s have been handed over to PLAN, carrying a 3-digit serial number and powered by AL-31F engines.
- Last Updated 5/25/14


FC-1/JF-17 Thunder Dragon/Thunder

First revealed in 1995 as the successor of the cancelled Sino-US Super-7 project, FC-1 (Fighter China-1, max TO weight 12,700kg, max speed M 1.8, service ceiling 16,920m, max weapon load 3,900kg, ferry range 3,480km, combat radius 1,352km, max g load +8.5) is being developed by CAC/611 Institute (with some technical assistance from Russian Mikoyan OKB) as a "medium tech", light weight fighter/ground attack aircraft carrying a relatively cheap price tag (~$20m). As a fighter designed for export, its main customer is expected to be Pakistan who also shares 50% of the total cost (around $150m). It may also compete with second-hand F-16s to seize the market created by the retirement of Mig-21s, Mirage III and F-5s. Currently powered by a Russian RD-93 turbofan (upgraded RD-33, rated 8,795kg with a/b), it may also be powered by a locally produced WS-13 Taishan once the engine is ready. The A-6 style "V" shaped air-intakes are believed to provide smooth air flow to the engine at high AoA. The fire control radar is thought to be a Chinese KLJ-7V2 X-band multi-functional PD radar (track 10 and engage 2 simultaneously, look-up range 75km, look-down range 45km for RCS=3m2). A European high performance radar (e.g. Italian Vixen 1000ES AESA) has been planned in later batches. Other electronics include an NVG compatible glass cockpit (EFIS) with three 8"x6" color MFDs, HOTAS, AIFF, 1553B data bus and INS/GPS. Weapon load includes both short (PL-5EII/PL-9C/AIM-9M) and medium-range AAMs (SD-10A). LGBs (LT-2/LT-3/GBU-16), GPS/INS guided bombs (LS-6), anti-radiation missiles (Brazilian MAR-1 or Chinese LD-10) and IRST/laser designation pod (WMD-7) can also be carried for ground attack missions. Up to 2 C-802AK AShMs can be carried for anti-ship missions. For high value fixed targets, the new CM-400AKG standoff supersonic ASM can be carried. For self-protection purpose a KG300G ECM pod can be carried. The development schedule of FC-1 was repeatedly delayed caused by various problems, such as lack of funding, the reluctance of western countries to supply advanced avionics, as well as the revised specifications set by PAF to counter the threat from India's LCAs. These specifications included a true BVR attack capability with active radar guided medium-range AAMs (SD-10). However, FC-1's prospect in the domestic market had diminished, as PLAAF had committed to the more advanced J-10 as its new generation fighter along with J-11 and was reluctant to take any FC-1s due to its less advanced design and a Russian engine. After lengthy negotiations, Pakistani government finally signed the contract with CATIC and CAC/611 in 1999 and gave the "go ahead" order to the much delayed project. The development was further accelerated after PAF recommitted the project and confirmed FC-1's technical specifications in detail in February 2001. A full-scale mock-up was quickly constructed. A total of 6 prototypes (01-06) would have been built at CAC. The 01 prototype rolled down the assembly line on May 31, 2003 with two small wing fences. Its maiden flight took place on August 25, 2003. The 03 prototype first flew on April 9, 2004 without the two small wing fences. The 04 prototype was expected to fly by the end of 2005 with full suite of avionics but this was delayed until April 2006 due to several structural modifications. They include new diverterless supersonic inlets (DSI/Bump) similar to those of American F-35 to reduce weight and achieve better performance. A large rectangular-shaped fairing is installed on top of the vertical tailfin which may house ECM equipment. Its flight control includes a Type 634 quadruplex digital FBW in pitch axis and a duplex analog FBW in roll axis. A UV band MAWS has been installed at the root of the vertical tailfin to provide rear hemisphere coverage. Two enlarged F/A-18 style LERX are thought to offer higher AOA as well. The first flight of 04 prototype took place on April 28, 2006, and 06 prototype on September 10, 2006. The first two pre-production JF-17s (PAF designation Joint Fighter-17, 00 batch/07-101 & 102) were delivered to Pakistan on March 2, 2007, with the nose-tip pitot tube removed. The 01 batch of 6 JF-17s (08-103 -- 08-108) were delivered between March and April 2008. The contract for PAF to acquire another 42 JF-17s assembled by PAC was singed on March 7, 2009. The first two (09-109 & 110) were built by CAC. The first JF-17 (09-111) in the batch of 4 assembled by PAC rolled out on November 23, 2009. The production of the 50 Block I was expected to conclude by the end of 2013 with another 50 Block II to follow in 2014. Besides Pakistan, several Asian and African countries also expressed interest in FC-1/JF-17, including Egypt, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan and Myanmar, but so far no firm order has been placed. FC-1 passed design appraisal in December 2009. The first taxiing test of FC-1 powered by an indigenous WS-13 took place on March 18, 2010. A further upgraded variant (JF-17 Block II/JF-17A?) featuring an IFR probe, improved avionics (including secure datalink with ZDK-03) and precision-guided weapon capability (including SD-10 AAM & C-802K AShM) has been under development as well. It will be supported by the PAF Il-78MP tanker. The Block II variant is expected to be followed by the Block III, which might feature a more powerful engine (WS-13?) and additional types of weapons. A tandem-seat trainer version (JF-17B?) was first unveiled at the 2013 Paris Airshow by CATIC, which has the electronic compartment removed from top of the vertical tailfin. However so far PAF has showed no commitment to this design. The latest news (June 2014) indicated that the first two JF-17 Block IIs are being assembled at PAC. First flight is projected by the end of the year. It is expected that all the Block I JF-17s will be upgraded to the Block II standard in the future as well.
- Last Updated 8/19/14