PAF receives JF-17B Thunder aircrafts

The Pakistan Airforce (PAF) will complete receipt of the first 12 of the 26 JF-17B combat aircraft in the near future. The service also revealed that the JF-17 Block III variant will feature the NRIET KLJ-7A AESA radar. 

Deliveries of the first 12 of 26 twin-seat JF-17B Thunder multirole combat aircraft on order for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) are expected to complete “in the near future”, PAF officials have told Jane’s.

Eight of these aircraft were built at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in Kamra, while the remaining four were constructed by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) in China, where the aircraft type is known as the FC-1 Xiaolong.

The aircraft, several of which are equipped with aerial refuelling probes, had been rolled out at PAC Kamra in late December 2019 during a ceremony that was attended by the PAF’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan. Delivery of the remaining JF-17Bs is set to be completed by 2021.

Speaking to Jane’s on 20 January, ACM Khan explained that the JF-17Bs will help to streamline the PAF’s training process for the Thunder. “The JF-17 pilots are currently being posted to Lockheed Martin F-16, Chengdu F-7PG or Dassault Mirage IIIEA ROSE aircraft before converting to the JF-17,” he said. “But they will start going straight to a JF-17 OCU [operational conversion unit] after completing their advanced jet training.” ACM Khan said this “will ensure that pilots transitioning to the jet are a lot younger than they are now”.

Meanwhile, the PAF revealed that the air-cooled Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET) KLJ-7A active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar has been selected for the Block III variant of the JF-17/ FC-1 Xiaolong, the first prototype of which made its maiden flight on 17 December.

The PAC Avionics Production Facility at Kamra is set to licence-build the KLJ-7A in time for the first Block IIIs to leave the production line in 2022. Another capability increase will be the Aselsan Aselpod advanced targeting pod, which will be mounted on a new hardpoint under the aircraft’s nose.

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