Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is aiming at formal induction of the JF-17B dual seat fighter jet by April 2017 as per the latest announcement .
Recently, production of the first JF-17B (B for double seat variant) was started by Pakistan and China during a joint ceremony at Chengdu Aerospace Corporation. The maiden flight is slated for this year towards the end, the PAF said.
The dual seat variant will be pivotal for training missions and improving operational capability.
Chinese counterparts and leadership paid tribute to PAF authorities for operationalising the aircraft and expressed their resolve to continue support for development work of JF-17 project.
The current JF-17 Thunder is a single-seat, and single-engine multi-role fighter jet. The development on the aircraft started in 1999, and the maiden flight was conducted in 2003.
The first batch of the JF-17, which is known as Block 1, was received in 2007. The production of the upgraded Block 2 JF-17 started in 2013. New models come with upgraded avionics, air-to-air refueling capability, data link, enhanced electronic warfare capability and enhanced load carrying ability.
For the Pakistan Air Force, the JF-17 is a big step towards being self- reliant. The target is to induct 250 to 300 units to fill the gap, which is being created by ageing fleet of Migs and Mirages.