JF-17 Block III production to begin this year: Air chief

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SIDDEEQ SAJID

ISLAMABAD

Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan on Thursday has said that production of the JF-17 Thunder Block III aircraft’s first batch is expected to begin later in 2019.

According to Jane’s Defense Weekly reports, Air Chief said, “The new Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system is expected to be installed on JF-17 Block III aircraft by March 3, 2020.

The remaining three JF-17 Block II aircraft will be received at the end of June, Mujahid Khan said.

Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has produced 50 Block I aircraft and 62 Block II JF-17s to date including the 12 Block II jets ordered in 2017. The PAF has currently 85 JF-17 Block I and II operationally deployed.

F-17 Block III aircraft will reportedly be fitted with 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 AESA.

While, The final three Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) JF-17 Thunder Block II multirole combat aircraft are set to be delivered to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) by late June.

According to Jane’s Defense report, the aircraft are part of an order placed by the PAF in late 2017 for an additional 12 platforms that are currently on the Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF) final assembly line at PAC Kamra. AMF has built more than 100 JF-17s since the first JF-17 (serialled 09-111) was rolled out in November 2009.

The Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology’s KLJ-7A radar is being marketed by China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) with air-cooling and liquid-cooling options. The second contender is Leihua Electronic Technology Research Institute (LETRI), which offers air-cooling AESA radar known as the LKF601E.

Meanwhile, the Aircraft Repair Factory (ARF) at PAC Kamra recently completed its first 1,000th hour inspection on the first JF-17. This comes after PAC Kamra and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC), which co-developed the fighter, worked on two JF-17s each to develop the working procedures.