China is working on making the Block III version of its JF-17 fighter jet to match the latest version of the United States F-16 V aircraft which has become a huge sales success in a relatively short span of time.
The JF-17 is made in Pakistan with technology supplied by Chengdu Aircraft Co., of China. The Block III version, which has been in development for over 2 years now is characterized by an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, helmet-mounted targeting system, an advanced targeting pod, data links and beyond visual range weapons.
“The JF-17 is expected to be fitted with an AESA radar, helmet-mounted display and sight system,” Global Times quoted Wei Dongxu, a Chinese military expert as saying Monday.
The development of the aircraft and production are already underway.
With less than half the price of the latest generation F-16 V fighter jet and features similar to that of the venerable US aircraft, China expects the JF-17 Block III to attract countries with tight defence budgets. Already, the JF-17 has been sold to Nigeria and Myanmar.
"A lot of countries have come to buy. You sign a contract for the JF-17, you benefit," Yang Wei, a Chinese legislator and chief designer of the fighter jet said.
Malaysia has shortlisted the Chinese-Pakistani jet among the roster for its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) procurement programme. It is in competition against the Indian-made Tejas and the South Korean F-50. With an initial purchase of 12 units, Malaysia is also looking to have an option for additional 24 units in the future.