Three Pakistani Air Force (PAF) JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft will be taking part in the Paris Air Show opening at the Paris Le Bourget airport next week. This Chinese-Pakistani fighter jet will participate in the daily flight demonstration. It will also be on display in the ground exhibit.
China and Pakistan are promoting the J-17 as a low-cost alternative to more advanced and expensive combat jets. The aircraft has been proposed to a number of countries in Asia and Latin America but has not yet scored export sales. Among the prospective clients still on the table are Bangladesh, Nigeria and Myanmar. China and Pakistan have demonstrated the aircraft at various international air shows, including the Farnborough Air Show in the UK, the China Air Show in Zhuhai, and air shows in Turkey and Dubai.
The JF-17 Thunder was developed jointly by Pakistan and China, by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group. Fifty planes have already been delivered and comprise two PAF fighter squadrons. Production of the follow-on Thunder JF-17 Block 2 variant began in 2013. Aircraft of this model are currently being assembled at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. Pakistan remains the only operator of this jet. Thunder Block 2 is equipped with an aerial refuelling probe and advanced avionics suite, improved cockpit ergonomics and updated Electronic Counter Measures (ECM), and can carry a wider range of ordnance.
From 2017 the Pakistani Air Force is expected to receive the third variant – JF-17 Block 3, to be equipped with a new, Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. This lightweight, all weather, multi-role fighter jet will become the mainstay of the PAF, as it plans to replace its ageing fleet of fighter aircraft with JF-17s. These are designed to carry out both air-to-air and air-to-ground strikes, and can be fitted with beyond-visual-range (BVR) missiles.