Builder: Chengdu (CAC),
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC)
Variants: FC-1, JF-17
Originally known as Super-7, the FC-1 Xiaolong was developed by the Chengdu
Aircraft Industry Corporation under a joint venture of China and Pakistan. The
FC-1 is a lightweight multi-role fighter powered by a single Klimov RD-93
(derivative of the RD-33) turbofan. It is capable of beyond-visual-range (BVR)
air-to-air combat, as well as laser-guided weapons delivery. Because the FC-1
has been developed primarily for the PAF and export market, it provides a
low-cost replacement for many developing countries that are currently operating
the ageing MiG-21/F-7 Fishbed and Northrop F-5 series. The unit price is
estimated to be US$15 million.
The origins of the 'Super-7' can be traced back to 1986 when Pakistan and China
wanted to modernize the J-7 with western avionics and engine. The project was
named 'Saber II' by the PAF and would replace its F-6s. In January 1987,
Grumman Aerospace was selected as primary contractor and several other western
firms competed to provide the engine and avionics. By 1989 the projected costs
had significantly increased (some sources say 40%) and was deemed a highly
financial risk by the Pakistan Air Force. On top of that, Chinese relations
with the west broke down. Subsequently the contract was cancelled.
Chengdu continued the development under the new designation FC-1 (Fighter
China-1) aimed at creating an affordable fighter for the export market. In 1995
Pakistan regained interest in a joint development with China. The 1993 US
sanctions prevented the PAF from acquiring Western technology or weapons. In
June 1999, China and Pakistan signed the joint development and production
agreement to co-develop the FC-1. Chengdu was selected as primary contractor
and the Russian Mikoyan Aero-Science Production Group (MASPG) was contracted to
provide the Klimov RD-93 turbofan engine and design assistance too.
The FC-1 design of today has little in common with the J-7 and is believed to
be based on Mikoyan's concept for a single-engine fighter based on the MiG-29.
The FC-1 also shows features from the F-16 design, although the layout is
somewhat more conventional.
In Pakistan the new fighter received the designation JF-17 (Joint Fighter-17)
and is planned to replace the F-7, Mirage III/5 and Q-5. The Pakistan Air Force
will probably be the biggest customer and thus is strongly involved in the
development of the aircraft. However Chinese avionics were not meeting the PAF
requirements and introducing Western avionics still proved to be a problem with
the sanctions in place. It was not until the platform development and avionics
system were de-coupled in early 2001, that the program started making progress.
Also progressing was Chinese technology. PAF agreed to the use of Chinese
avionics, although it still have to made its mind up regarding the fire-control
radar. The most likely contender being the Italian-built Grifo S7 radar, PAF
F-7P, F-7PG and Mirages are also equipped with Grifo radars.
The first FC-1 was rolled out on 31 May 2003. It made its first flight on 24
August 2003, although some say 2 or 3 September 2003. It was quickly followed
by a second airframe (PT-2) for static tests and two more flying prototypes.
The third prototype PT-3 has joined PT-1 in the flight testing program on 9
April 2004 and PT-4 is scheduled to fly later in 2005. PT-4 will be testing
integration of the Chinese radar and PL-12/SD-10 BVR missile.
The PAF has comitted to the acquisition of 150 JF-17, whilst China is expected
to buy 250 for the PLAAF depending on the outcome of the evaluation. Pakistan
will initially produce 50% of the aircraft locally, progressively increasing to
100%. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) formally opened their JF-17
production facility at PAC Kamra factory on 6 April 2005. Production will start
in 2005 and the first four locally-built aircraft will be handed over to the
PAF in December 2006, another four will be delivered by March 2007. Full rate
production is planned to start in 2007 turning out 20 aircraft per year.
Earlier news reported 16 aircraft to be delivered in 2006, if this is still
true, 12 will be produced by CAC of which four will be delivered to Pakistan.
The initial production aircraft will probably feature a Chinese radar which
would enable use of the Chinese BVR SD-10 missile. But Pakistan plans to put
the GRIFFO radar in the initial production aircraft for evaluation and testing
of the avionics with the GRIFFO.
The Pakistan Air Force have offered the FC-1/JF-17 to the Royal Malaysian Air
Force. China Aviation Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) and CAC are
marketing the FC-1 to potential customers currently including Bangladesh, Egypt
and Nigeria, more are likely to follow soon.
Future variants will include a two-seat fully combat-capable training version,
which is scheduled to begin flight testing in 2006. It features a lengthened
fuselage to accommodate the additional cockpit. China may also develop its own
power plant for the FC-1, although it is also possible that the co-produced
version of the Klimov RD-93, called the WS-13, will equip future FC-1s. Also
there are plans to include air-to-air refueling probes and modifications
incorporating modern avionics.
Pakistan is also looking at adding advanced Western weapons and avionics in the
future. It is also looking at the possibility of acquiring anti-radiation
missiles, which could be the same as the BVR missile with a different seeker
one 49.4 kN (11,103 lb st) dry or 84.4 kN (18,969 lb st) with afterburner
Klimov RD-93 turbofan or equivalent co-produced WS-13 turbofan.
Dimensions: length 14.97
m (49 ft 1 1/2 in); height 4.77 m (15 ft 8 in); wing span 9.46 m (31 ft 1/2 in)
Weights: empty 6,411 kg
(14,136 lb); Normal Take-Off Weight 9,072 kg (20,000 lb); Max Take-Off Weight
12,474 kg (27,500 lb)
Performance: max level
speed 'clean' at altitude Mach 1.6 or 1,909 km/h (1,186 mph); service ceiling
15,240 m (50,000 ft); ferry range 2,037 km (1,266 miles); operational radius
1,352 km (840 miles); G-limit: +8.5
Armament: one internal
GSh-23-2 twin-barrel 23mm cannon; up to 3,629 kg (8,000 lb) of ordnance
including PL-7, PL-10, R550 Magic-2, A-Darter, PL-5C, AIM-9L/P, Mica, Aspide,
air-to-air missiles, AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile, Mk.82 Mk.84 GBU-10,
GBU-12, Durandel, Rockeye, and Chinese equivalent air-to-ground weapons,
unguided rockets, auxiliary fuel tanks, carried on up to 7 external stations.
Two wingtip station, four underwing and one centerfuselage.