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).
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.