China has reportedly overhauled a Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 “Thunder” Block I multirole fighter jet of the Pakistan Air Force in March, according to media reports.
Citing a report by China Aviation News, the website Defense World.Net states that the overhaul of the aircraft was carried out by Changsha 5712 Aircraft Industry Company, a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The refit of the JF-17 was reportedly completed in March of this year.
The report is interesting as it appears to confirm that Pakistan is still not capable of domestically overhauling its growing fleet of JF-17 fighter jets. Future refits are expected to take place in Pakistan as the PAF has dispatched dozens of maintenance crews to China for training.
It also suggests that the JF-17 aircraft assembled at the Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF) final assembly line at PAC Kamraare are delivered from China in knock-down condition. “The first overhaul represents the trial-and-error phase of the project and provided experience in establishing standards for other JF-17 overhauls in the future,” Defense World.Net paraphrases Chinese aviation experts.
PAC has assembled a total of 50 Block I aircraft and 62 Block II JF-17s to date including 12 Block II jets ordered in 2017. Overall, the PAF has currently 85 JF-17 Block I and II operationally deployed. Production of the first batch of JF-17 Block III aircraft is expected to begin later this year. PAC has reportedly been producing 58 percent of the JF-17s airframe, and CAC 42 percent of it. As I explained earlier this year:
All three JF-17 variants are powered by a Chinese license-built Klimov RD-93 (an RD-33 derivative) turbofan engine. The JF-17 has an approximate combat radius of up to 1,200 kilometers without refueling and can reach a maximum speed of up to Mach 1.6.
The JF-17 costs $25 million per unit, although the Block III per-unit price is expected to go up as a result of the new subsystems, including the expensive new AESA radar system. The PAF intends to procure up to 50 new Block III aircraft.
The aircraft can alternatively be armed with air-to-air, air-to-surface, and anti-ship missiles. It will also be able to fire beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAM). An unnamed BVRAAM was test fired by the PAF [in February] and possibly [in March].
The JF-17 maid its maiden flight in 2003. A contract was signed in 2016 for the overhaul of the first JF-17 Block I, with work on the aircraft beginning in November 2017. The retrofitted fighter jet conducted its first test flight in October 2018.