CAC FC-1 Xiaolong/PAC JF-17 Thunder

TypeMultirole combat
Country of originChina and Pakistan
ManufacturerChengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC)
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC)
First flight25 August 2003
Introduced12 March 2007
ProducedIn China: June 2007–present
In Pakistan: January 2008–present
Numbers builtPrototypes: 6
Production: ~34
Unit costsBlock 1: US$15–20 million (estimated)
Block 2: US$20–25 million
Max speedMach 1.8 (1,191 knots, 2,205 km/h)
Max rangeCombat radius: 1,352 km (840 mi)
Ferry range: 3,480 km (1,880 NM = 2,160 mi)
Service ceiling: 16,920 m (55,500 ft)
DimensionsLength: 14.0 m[129] (45.9 ft)
Wingspan: 9.45 m (including 2 wingtip missiles (31 ft)
Height: 4.77 m (15 ft 8 in)
Wing area: 24.4 m² (263 ft²)
WeightEmpty weight: 6,411 kg (14,134 lb)
Loaded weight: 9,100 kg (20,062 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 12,700 kg (28,000 lb)
Powerplant1 × Klimov RD-93 or WS-13 turbofan
Dry thrust: 49.4 kN/ 51.2 kN (11,106 lbf / 11,510 lbf)
Thrust with afterburner: 84.4 kN/86.36 kN (18,973 lbf / 19,391 lbf)
ArmamentGuns: 1× 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon (can be replaced with 30 mm GSh-30-2)

Hardpoints: 7 in total (4× under-wing, 2× wing-tip, 1× under-fuselage) with a capacity of 3,629 kg (8,000 lb) external fuel and ordnance

Missiles:
Air-to-air missiles:
Short range: AIM-9L/M, PL-5E, PL-9C
Beyond visual range: PL-12 / SD-10
Air-to-surface missiles:
Anti-radiation missiles : MAR-1[89]
Anti-ship missiles: C-802A[72], C-803
Cruise missiles: Ra'ad ALCM

Bombs:
Unguided bombs:
Mk-82, Mk-84 general purpose bombs
Matra Durandal anti-runway bomb
CBU-100/Mk-20 Rockeye anti-armour cluster bomb

Precision guided munitions (PGM):
GBU-10, GBU-12, LT-2 laser-guided bombs
H-2, H-4 electro-optically guided, LS-6 satellite-guided glide bombs
OperatorsChina, Pakistan

The FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon)/JF-17 Thunder is a single engine, lightweight, multirole combat aircraft that was constructed together by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) of China and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) of Pakistan.

The medium-sized aircraft is constructed primarily to fulfill the requirements of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to substitute its aging fleet of Nanchang A-5, Chengdu F-7P/PG and Dassault Mirage III/V. The first flight of the FC-1 was accomplished in August 2003 and came into service in March 2007. The aircraft is designated as Joint Fighter-17 (JF-17) by Pakistan and as Fighter China-1 (FC-1) by China. The FC-1/JF-17 is estimated to cost around $15m-20m.

The JF-17 was displayed at the Farnborough Air Show 2010. Two aircraft of the No. 26 Black Spiders Squadron were also demonstrated at the show.

The Development of CAC FC-1 Xiaolong/PAC JF-17 Thunder

In 1989, Pakistan had discontinued Project Sabre II, a design study associating Grumman and China to re-design and enhance the Chengdu F-7, as a result of economic sanctions by the U. S. In the same year, China and Grumman began a new design study to produce the Super 7, another re-designed Chengdu F-7.

Pakistan, at the same time, needed a new fighter to substitute its air power of Dassault Mirage III/5s, Chengdu F-7s, and Nanchang A-5s. In 1995, Pakistan and China brought in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for joint design and development of a new fighter, and throughout the next few years, the two countries figured out the project details. In June 1995, Mikoyan joined the plan to deliver design support and a team of engineers to CAC.

The initial prototype, PT-01, was rolled out on 31 May 2003 and transported to the Chengdu Flight Test Centre by June 2003 to be geared up for the first flight. The designation Super-7 was swapped out by “JF-17” (Joint Fighter-17) sometime throughout this period.

In November 2007 the PAF and PAC carried out flight evaluation of the pre-production aircraft equipped with a variant of the NRIET KLJ-10 radar, designed and developed by China’s Nanjing Research Institute for Electronic Technology (NRIET), and the LETRI SD-10 active radar homing AAM. It was also explained by JF-17 program managers that they were earnestly thinking about buying the Thales RC400 radar and MICA AAM from France for equipping the JF-17, which means that in future the PAF could be managing a combined fleet of JF-17 armed with Chinese and French radars and missiles.

Just before the 2008 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar in Pakistan, news came about that the PAF was not completely pleased with the RD-93 turbofan engine and it would only power the first batch of 50 aircraft. It was noted that an offer for a new engine, considered to be the Snecma M53-P2, could show up while in the exhibition.

In beginning 2010 it was reported that ATE Aerospace Group had been picked out by the PAF to incorporate a variety of French avionics and weapons systems which would be provided by various partners such as Thales, Sagem and MBDA.

In May 2011, China offered 50 JF-17s to Pakistan on an urgent basis at no cost.

The Design of CAC FC-1 Xiaolong/PAC JF-17 Thunder

The airframe is of semi-monocoque structure, crafted predominantly of aluminium alloys. High durability steel and titanium alloys are partly used in some crucial areas.

Up to 3, 629 kg (8, 000 lb) of ordnance, devices and fuel can be installed beneath the hardpoints, two of which are on the wing-tips, four under the wings and one underneath the fuselage.

The cockpit is protected by a transparent acrylic canopy constructed to provide the pilot a great all-round field of view. A centre stick is applied for pitch and roll control while rudder pedals handle yaw. A throttle is positioned to the left of the pilot. The cockpit features hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls.

The pilot sits on a zero-zero ejection seat; either the Martin-Baker Mk-16LE, which is going to be utilized on Pakistan Air Force fighters, or the Chinese TY-5B also fitted to the Chengdu J-10.

The aircraft’s glass cockpit includes an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) and a wide-angle holographic head-up display (HUD), which possesses a minimum total field of view of 25 degrees.

The Avionics of CAC FC-1 Xiaolong/PAC JF-17 Thunder

The avionics suite consists of electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS), flight control system (FCS), health and usage monitoring system (HUMS), automatic test equipment, UHF / VHF communication radios, simpatico data links, inertial navigation system (INS) and an identification friend-or-foe (IFF) transponder.

Instead of implementing the Ada programming language that is optimized for military applications, the software is written using the well-known civilian C++ programming language to better apply the numerous civilian software programmers available. The redesigned PT-04 prototype JF-17 had more sophisticated avionics than its predecessors, which are incorporated on the production version of the aircraft.

Mounted Armaments on CAC FC-1 Xiaolong/PAC JF-17 Thunder

FC-1/JF-17 is armed with GSh-23 dual-barrel 23mm cannon or GSh-30 dual-30mm cannon. The aircraft features seven hardpoints of which four are situated under the wings, one under the fuselage and two mounted on the wingtips. It can bring up to 3, 700kg payload.

CAC FC-1 Xiaolong/PAC JF-17 Thunder Videos


JF-17 Pakistan Air Force at China Air Show 2010

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