The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is expected to receive the first 12 Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17B Thunder “in the near future,” according to PAF officials cited in a February 4 IHS Jane’s report.
PAC completed production of the first batch of eight JF-17Bs last month. CAC meanwhile has produced four JF-17B aircraft.
PAF’s chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, and China’s ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, attended the roll out ceremony on January 20 at the PAC production facility in Karma.
Khan at the time congratulated PAC Kamra and CAC for the “successful accomplishment of [the] 2019 production target and on completing [the] first 8 dual-seat JF-17 aircraft in [a] record time of five months.”
The JF-17B aircraft will be available in an attack and trainer variant. According to an IHS Jane’s interview with Khan from January 2020, the JF-17B will help streamline pilot training processes within the PAF.
“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,” Khan was quoted as saying by IHS Jane’s. “But they will start going straight to a JF-17 OCU [operational conversion unit] after completing their advanced jet training.”
This “will ensure that pilots transitioning to the Sino-Pakistani jet are a lot younger than they are now,” according to Khan.
In addition to the eight aircraft rolled out in late December, the PAF expects to receive a further 14 JF-Bs in 2020 and four more in 2021. The first prototype of the JF-17B twin-seater was reportedly completed in late 2016 and conducted its maiden flight in April 2017.
In comparison to previous JF-17 variants, the JF-17B is a twin-seat aircraft and features a deeper dorsal spine and added fuel capacity.
The latest single-seat variant of the aircraft, theJF-17 Block III, conducted its maiden flight in December 2019.
Notably, this new variant may be fitted with the Chinese WS-13 engine instead of the Russian Klimov RD-93MA found on JF-17 Block I and Block II aircraft. The latest variant of the aircraft will also feature additional technical upgrades, as I explained elsewhere:
F-17 Block III fighters will apparently receive a new electronic warfare system, upgraded avionics including a three-axis fly-by-wire digital flight control system, a helmet-mounted display and sight system, and Pakistan’s first Chinese-made active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system.
According to PAF sources, the service has opted for the the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology’s KLJ-7A AESA radar system.
Overall, the PAF has reportedly placed orders for 186 JF-17 combat aircraft.