CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder

The PAC JF-17 Thunder (Urdu: جے ایف-١٧ گرج‎), or CAC FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon; Chinese: 枭龙; pinyin: Xiāo Lóng), is a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. The JF-17 can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack and aircraft interception. Its designation "JF-17" by Pakistan is short for "Joint Fighter-17", while the designation and name "FC-1 Xiaolong" by China means "Fighter China-1 Fierce Dragon".

The JF-17 can deploy diverse ordnance, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon. Powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or RD-93 afterburning turbofan it has a top speed of Mach 1.6. The JF-17 is to become the backbone of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), complementing the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon whose performance it roughly matches, at half the cost. The PAF inducted its first JF-17 squadron in February 2010 and five years later 54 units were in service, and 96 units were on order, to be delivered by the end of 2018.

CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group
Origin China
Country Name Origin Year
China 2003
Pakistan 2003
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
China 2007 View
Pakistan View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex 2008 View
Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group 2007 65 View

Initial delivery, evaluation, and induction

Small batch production of the single-seat, single-engine JF-17s began in China in June 2006. The first two small-batch-produced aircraft were delivered on 2 March 2007 and first flew in Pakistan on 10 March. They took part in an aerial display on 23 March 2007 as part of the Pakistan Day Joint Services Parade in Islamabad. Another six small-batch-produced aircraft were delivered by March 2008. These were extensively flight-tested and evaluated by the PAF. Two serial production aircraft were delivered from China in 2009 and the first Pakistani-manufactured aircraft was delivered to the PAF in a ceremony on 23 November 2009.

On 18 February 2010, the first JF-17 squadron, No. 26 Black Spiders, was officially inducted into the PAF with an initial strength of 14 fighter planes. These aircraft first saw service in the anti-terrorist operation in South Waziristan, during which various types of weapons were evaluated. They took part in the PAF's High Mark 2010 exercise from 29 April, where they were used by the Blue Force to attack Red Land surface targets with precision air-to-surface weapons. A re-equipment ceremony for No. 26 Black Spiders Squadron took place on 11 April 2011, during which it was stated that the JF-17 had "revolutionised the PAF's operational concepts". The then Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman said: "Today as we re-equip No 26 squadron, we have also raised No. 16 Squadron with the JF-17 Thunder aircraft. I would like to mention and appreciate the contribution and support of the Chinese in helping us acquire a technological breakthrough in the shape of this aircraft."

Role Multirole combat aircraft
National origin China
Manufacturer Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex
First flight 25 August 2003
Introduction 12 March 2007
Status in service
Primary user Pakistan Air Force
Produced In China: June 2007 – present
In Pakistan: January 2008 – present
Program cost US$500 million
Unit cost Block 1: US$~30 million
Block 2: US$~32 million(estimated)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 14.93 m (49 ft)
  • Wingspan: 9.45 m (31 ft, including 2 wingtip missiles)
  • Height: 4.72 m (15 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 24.4 m²[114] (263 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 6,586 kg (14,520 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 9,100 kg (20,062 lb)
  • Useful load: 3000 kg (6600 lb)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 12,383 kg (27,300 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Klimov RD-93
  • Dry thrust: 49.4 kN / 51.2 kN (11,106 lbf / 11,510 lbf)
  • Thrust with afterburner: 84.5 kN (19,000 lbf)
  • G-limit: +8 g / -3 g
  • Internal Fuel Capacity: 2,300 kg (5,130 lb)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.8 (1,370.2 mph; 2,205.1 km/h)
  • Combat radius: 1,352 km (840 mi)
  • Ferry range: 3,482 km (1,880 NM)
  • Service ceiling: 16,920 m (55,500 ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.95


  • Guns: 1× 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon or 1x 30 mm Gsh-30-2
  • Hardpoints: 7 in total (4× under-wing, 2× wing-tip, 1× under-fuselage; pylon stations number 3, 4 and 5 are wet-plumb capable) with a capacity of 3,400 kg (7,500 lb) for external fuel and ordnance
  • Missiles:
  • Air-to-air missiles:

    • MAA-1 Piranha (Short-range)

    • AIM-9L/M (Short-range)

    • PL-5EII (Short-range)

    • PL-9C (Short-range)

    • PL-12 / SD-10 (Beyond visual range)

  • Air-to-surface missiles:

    • MAR-1 (Anti-radiation missile)

    • Ra'ad ALCM (Nuclear capable Stealth Cruise missile)

    • CM-400AKG supersonic anti-shipping missile, export version of YJ-12

  • Bombs:

    • Unguided bombs:

      • Mk-82 (general purpose bomb)

      • Mk-84 (general purpose bomb)

      • Matra Durandal (anti-runway bomb)

      • CBU-100/Mk-20 Rockeye (anti-armour cluster bomb)

    • Precision guided munitions (PGM):

      • GBU-10 (Laser-guided)

      • GBU-12 (Laser-guided)

      • LT-2 (Laser-guided)

      • H-2 (electro-optically guided)

      • H-4 (electro-optically guided)

      • LS-6 (satellite-guided glide bombs)

      • Satellite-guided bombs

  • Others:

    • Rocket Pods

    • Countermeasures (Flares, Chaff)

    • Up to 3 external drop tanks (2× under-wing 1,100 litres (240 imp gal; 290 US gal), 1× under-fuselage 800 litres (180 imp gal; 210 US gal)) for extendedrange/loitering time


  • DEEC electronic warfare suite

  • NRIET KLJ-7 multi-mode fire-control radar

  • Night vision goggles (NVG) compatible glass cockpit

  • Externally mounted avionics pods:

    • KG-300G self-protection radar jamming pod

    • WMD-7 day/night targeting pod 

End notes