Pakistani new JF-17 Block 3 fighter aircraft has performed its first flight in China

The first JF-17 Block 3 fighter aircraft has performed its first flight on December 15, 2019, on a factory runway in China. The new version of the JF-17 is set to operationally deploy with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in 2020 and all 50 planned JF-17 Block IIIs are expected to be inducted by 2024.

Pakistani new JF 17 Block 3 fighter aircraft has performed its first flight in China 925 001 The new JF-17 Block 3 has performed its first flight on December 15, 2019, in China. (Picture source Twiter account Darya Khan)

The JF-17 is a single engine, lightweight, multipurpose combat aircraft was jointly developed by China and Pakistan from the early 2000s which saw its first flight in august 2003. It is equipped with a glass cockpit and a specially designed canopy. The cockpit features three multifunction displays (MFD), head-up display (HUD), 32-bit weapon and mission management computer (WMMC) and a hands-on throttle and stick.

The avionics suite of the JF-17 includes electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS), flight control system (FCS), health and usage monitoring system (HUMS), automatic test equipment, UHF / VHF communication radios, simpatico data links, inertial navigation system (INS) and an identification friend-or-foe (IFF) transponder.

The JF-17 / FC-1 is armed with GSh-23 dual-barrel 23mm cannon or GSh-30 dual-30mm cannon. It is also armed with PL-12 or SD-10 radar homing medium-range air-to-air missile (MRAAM), unguided bombs, satellite guided bombs, gravity bombs, anti-ship missiles, anti-radiation missiles, rocket launchers and a laser designator pod.

The JF-17 / FC-1 is equipped with AIM-9L / M, PL-5E, PL-9C short range air-to-air missiles on its wingtip hardpoints.

The JF-17 block 3 features further avionics advancements such as helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S) system, a new single panel multi-functional display (MFD), an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar paired with an infrared search and track (IRST) system, and a cockpit with a flight-control stick on the side an NRIET KLJ-7A AESA radar, more use of composites, a new engine, and a two-seater cockpit option, with a top speed of 2.0+ Mach.

Pakistani Air Force officials have described it as a "fourth-generation plus" fighter jet. According to unconfirmed media reports the induction is expected to start around 2019. As of September 2016, the design of the JF-17 Block III has been finalized.


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