China-Pak to develop a stealth version of the JF-17 Thunder

China and Pakistan have reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a stealth version of a light-weight fighter aircraft being jointly produced by them to match MiG-21 warplane, a work horse of the Indian Air Force.

JF-17 Thunder, also known as FC-1, being jointly built by Kamra-based Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aerospace Company (CAC) today made its first appearance at an international air show having flown in here after making refueling stops in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The plane, which has been in development in one form or another since 1991, is a symbol of cooperation between China and Pakistan and the first assembled version brought out by the Kamra plant, delivered in November last year, according to ‘Show News,’ a special issue of defence journal Aviation Week for the Farnborough Air Show.

“The two (countries) have also reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a stealth variant of the JF-17 Thunder,” it said.

The journal said that Pakistan Air Force (PAK) is expected to acquire around 250 JF-17s, but this may be a split of 100 in the JF-17 configuration, being displayed at the air show here, and 150 of the stealth multi-role combat aircraft (MCRA) between 2015 and 2025.

A Russian-built Klimov RD-93 engine — a specialised single-engine fighter variant of the Mig 29’s RS-33 powerplant, powers the plane. The first prototype of the warplane flew in 2003 and the first two Chinese-made versions were handed over to the PAF in March 2007.

Show organisers said that the two JF-17 fighter planes would not fly as part of the air show. “The aircraft has not completed its full release to service in Pakistan,” the journal said, quoting a member of the flight control committee.

“Although that full release is only month away, the PAF is also today in what is for them new territory. Farnborough is their very first event of this kind ever,” it said.

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