Myanmar last March became the second export customer (after Pakistan) for the FC-1 ‘Xiaolong’ light multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) when it inked a contract with the Chinas Aero Technology Import-Export Corp (CATIC) for an initial 12 aircraft along with a cockpit procedures trainer, while retaining the option to procure another 12 at a later date.
Deliveries are scheduled to begin in December 2017 and these FC-1s will eventually replace Myanmar’s existing Xi’an F-7M Airguard and Nanchang A-5IIIC combat aircraft, which had been procured in the early 1990s.
The FC-1’s formal R & D process began when Pakistan inked a procurement contract with CATIC in 1999.
The MRCA’s design was frozen by China’s 611 Institute in February 2001. Subsequently, six flying prototypes were built by the Chengdu Aircraft Corp (CAC). The first prototype was rolled out on May 31, 2003 and its maiden flight took place on August 25, 2003. The third prototype, built to series-production standards, first flew on April 9, 2004. The fourth prototype flew in April 2006.
The first tranche of six FC-1s, known as JF-17 Thunder Block-1, was delivered in flyaway condition to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) between March and April 2008.
Following this, a supplementary contract for 42 more JF-17s was inked on March 7, 2009. Of these, only the first two were delivered in flyaway condition, while the remaining were supplied in semi-knocked-down (SKD) condition to the Kamra-based Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). The first PAC-assembled JF-17 was rolled out on November 23, 2009.
To date, CAC has delivered 50 JF-17 Block-1s and four JF-17 Block-2s (featuring a fixed aerial refuelling probe), with another 46 JF-17 Block-2s due for delivery by 2020. CAC is building them at a rate of eight per year.
The RD-93 turbofans for both the FC-1 and its JF-17 version are produced by the Moscow-based Chernyshev Machine-Building Plant, a subsidiary of Russia’s United Engines Corp (UEC) and supplied to CATIC.
The PAF plans to procure 50 Block-3 versions of the JF-17 in the following decade and each of these are likely to be equipped with a FWS-13 Taishan turbofan (now being flight-tested on board an IL-76MD testbed at the PLAAF’s China Flight Test Establishment at Xian-Yanliang air base in Xi’an, Sha'anxi province), passive electronically scanned array multi-mode radar (PESA-MMR) along with a CATIC-supplied infra-red search-and-track (IRST) sensor and a Sicong Group-developed helmet-mounted display system (HMDS).
CATIC is presently developing the JFT-17, a tandem-seat operational conversion trainer that is expected to make its maiden flight by the year’s end.
Data On FC-1’s Avionics Suite
FC-1’s Weapons Package
The CPMIEC-developed CM-400AKG supersonic air-launched ASCM has a terminal cruise speed of Mach 3 and a maximum range of 120km.