Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s JF-17 Block 3’s first flight has been planned for the end of 2019, BulgarianMilitary.com reported from Islamabad.
The PAF expects to fly the fighter operationally in 2020, the report said attributing the information to the PAF Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Mujahid Anwar Khan. He also said that the PAF will also procure 26 twin-seat JF-17Bs alongside the 50 Block 3s.
The report did not say where, when and in what context the Air Chief Marshal made the comment.
However sources in Pakistan Aeronautics Complex (PAC) which assembles the aircraft with Chinese components, said during the recent Paris Airshow that there was no timeframe yet for the Block -3’s first flight.
They said the PAF is still finalizing the radar, electronics, and air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons package of the Block 3. In addition, sources in the Aviation Industries Corporation of China (AVIC) which partners the PAC in the JF-17 project, too were non-committal about the development schedule of the JF-17 Block-3.
The Block-3 will be the most advanced version of the JF-17 with its armaments, radar and communications systems on par or close to the US’s F-16 Block-70.
The PAC has already announced an end to the JF-17 Block-2 aircraft production in 2019 which could mean that the Block-3 is indeed in an advanced stage of development.
In addition to the PAF, the JF-17 Block-3 has elicited interest from potential customers in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.