Chengdu And Pakistan Working On JF-17 Two-Seat Version


The Chengdu works of Avic’s combat aircraft subsidiary is developing a two-seat version of the JF-17 Thunder fighter in cooperation with the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, say Chinese industry executives.

The two-seater will be adaptable for conversion training and combat roles, they say, though as a fighter it will not perform as well as the single-seat version. The JF-17 is being built in a joint program with Pakistan for the Pakistan Air Force. The program, which began, unusually, without a conversion trainer, will deliver about 100 JF-17s to Pakistan, the executives say.

Development of the two-seater has not advanced to a point at which Avic International, the export division of Avic, could sign a contract for delivery, the executives say, adding that they were unsure when the aircraft would be available. The single-seat version was designed with development of a two-seater in mind, they say.

Attempts at exporting the JF-17 would be greatly helped by an order, and therefore endorsement, from the Chinese air force, but the service is still evaluating the JF-17. It began doing so three or four years ago, the executives say, adding that the air force was not even telling them exactly what it wanted.

The JF-17, also called FC-1 Xiaolong, is a relatively small fighter with a normal takeoff weight of 9.1 tons (20,100 lb.) and a single Russian engine, the 19,200 lb.-thrust Klimov RD-93, a derivative of the MiG-29’s RD-33. A key selling point of the JF-17 is that it is much cheaper than Western aircraft such as the Saab Gripen, says Avic International.


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