China Makes Significant Development in the JF-17 Thunder Block III

Chinese media indicates that Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) has achieved a major milestone in the development of the JF-17 Thunder Block-III. The aircraft is said to enter into the “preliminary design stage.”

The Block-III is supposed to be the first major upgrade of functions and features of the JF-17. It will involve new electronic subsystems, active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, a new integrated electronic warfare (EW) system, three-axis fly-by-wire (FBW) digital flight control system and helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S).

JF-17B during test flight

CAIG has successfully established an optimal configuration for the Block-III. It will provide marked improvement in capabilities.

The AESA radar demands changes in the current air-frame along with cooling system. In coming days, CAIG is is likely to align with the Pakistan Air Force  (PAF) to form some actionable plan. The Block-III is expected to enter production in 2019 or 2020 and the PAF is assumed to place an order of 50 Block-IIIs.

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