3 JF-17 Thunder aircraft are expected to be displayed at the Paris Airshow in June, including a flight demo.
The Joint Fighter-17 (JF-17) Thunder multi-role fighter was jointly developed by China and Pakistan. Development started in 1999. Most of the development was carried out in China by Chengdu, however development costs were split equally. It was reported that Russian Mikoyan design bureau provided some assistance in development of this aircraft. Aircraft made it’s maiden flight in 2003. It’s official Chinese designation is the Fighter China-1 or FC-1 Xiaolong (Fiece Dragon).
First 8 Chinese-built fighters were delivered to Pakistan in 2007 – 2008. In 2009 an order was signed for a further 42 fighters. These were license-produced locally by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. By 2013 Pakistan Air Force operated 50 of these aircraft and production continues. It is estimated that total requirement of the Pakistani Air Force is for 250 new fighters.
Currently Pakistan Air Force operate a number of ageing A-5C, F-7P, Mirage 3 and Mirage 5 that a due to be replaced. This multi-role aircraft is also proposed for developing countries as a low-cost replacement for their ageing types. Recently Azerbaijan ordered 26 of these multi-role fighters.