The JF-17 is being built by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. The project is expected to cost about US$500 million, divided equally between China and Pakistan, while each individual aircraft is expected to have a fly-away cost of $15 million. Pakistan has announced that it will procure 150 planes by 2015.
This newly manufactured multi-roll light weight fighter aircraft - the JF-17 Thunder, is a joint Chinese-Pakistani project that aimed to reduce Pakistan’s dependence on western firms for advanced fighters, by fielding a low-cost multi-role lightweight fighter that would host modern electronics, and represent a step up from its Chinese MiG-19/21 derivatives, and French Mirage fighters.
The JF-17 fighter designed as a co-operative venture between Pakistan and China to replace old aircrafts in Pakistan’s fleet. It has fixed weapons including a GSh-23 dual-barrel 23mm cannon, which can be upgraded to GSh-30 dual-30 mm cannon at a weight and ammunition penalty. Up to 3,700 kg/ 8,150 pounds of payload can be carried on its centreline station, plus 2 under wing and 1 wingtip pylons on each wing. The aircraft will reportedly be qualified to take AIM-9P Sidewinder.
This positioning addresses a market that the West once dominated, but has nearly abandoned in recent decades. The 2 countries have set up a joint JF-17 marketing agency to promote export sales, and their offering has received initial interest. Other countries which have expressed interest in purchasing the JF-17 are Egypt, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Burma, Zimbabwe, Morocco and Algeria.
The image above was taken during an event, JF-17 is painted with the Pakistani and Chinese national flags as it participated in a fly past during a parade.