The PAC JF-17 Thunder s a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. The JF-17 can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack and aircraft interception. Its designation “JF-17” by Pakistan is short for “Joint Fighter-17”, while the designation and name “FC-1 Xiaolong” by China means “Fighter China-1 Fierce Dragon”.
The JF-17 can deploy diverse ordnance, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon. Powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or Klimov RD-93 afterburning turbofan, it has a top speed of Mach 1.6. The JF-17 is to become the backbone of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), complementing the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon whose performance it roughly matches, at half the cost. The PAF inducted its first JF-17 squadron in February 2010 and as of December 2015, 49 JF-17 Thunder Aircraft were in service with 50 additional airframes ordered, of which 17 have been delivered. In 2015 Pakistan produced 16 JF-17’s. As of 2016, Pakistan is believed to have the production capacity to produce 25 JF-17 per year by itself, 58% of the airframe are Pakistani and 42% Chinese/Russian-origin. As of December 2016, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex has manufactured 70 jets in the country for use by the Pakistan Air Force of the Block 1 type, and 33 jets of the Block 2 type.
The Pakistan Air Force plans to induct a twin-seater version for both enhanced operational capability and training, known as the JF-17B by 2017. Preparations for a more advanced and technologically sophisticated block III version of the aircraft is underway and the AESA radar has been developed, the KLJ-7A which can track 15 targets and engage 4 targets simultaneously. Since its induction in 2011, the JF-17 Thunder has accumulated 19,000 hours of operational flight. The JF-17 has seen active military service as it is used by the Pakistan Air Force to bomb militant positions in the War in North-West Pakistan, using both unguided munitions and guided missiles for precision strike capability. The Nigerian Air Force has confirmed it is expecting delivery of JF-17 for use in military operations against militants in Northern Nigeria.