As we have reported earlier, First JF-17 Thunder Block III Fighter Jet prototype made Its Maiden Flight. In December 2019, allegedly on the 16th although the images were posted the 27th, the first JF-17 Block III “3000” made its maiden flight at the CAC facilities in Chengdu (China).
Now here are apparently, first official picture of JF-17 Thunder Block 3, recently released by AVIC.
According to some unofficial sources these images are of JF-17 Block-3 Prototype 2 which is being flown by PAF pilots in CAC.
According to photos circulated on the Chinese social platform, the aircraft is installed with many commercial off-the-shelf technologies from the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the report said.
Visually, it is hard to detect many differences between earlier versions of the JF-17 and the new Block III.
One notable difference appears to be a new and larger holographic wide-angle head-up display and integrated cockpit display similar to the one used by the J-20, in addition to an advanced infrared missile approach warning system used by the J-10C, J-16, and J-20 fighter jets, the magazine reported.
In addition, there appears to be the addition of a radar warning receivers aft of the aircraft intakes and on the tail. At Paris, the programme official said a key structural difference with the Block III would be a larger intake. In early images of the Block III, however, the intake appears similar to the Block I and II.
The new fighter is set to revolutionize aerial warfare capabilities, incorporating an advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar (possibly the Chinese made KLJ-7A), new electronic warfare systems, a new fly by wire digital flight control system, a new helmet-mounted display, and access to a new wider range of more sophisticated munitions.
These are reported to include new longer-ranged and more sophisticated air to air munitions, the PL-15 according to some reports, and possibly more advanced variants of the PL-12, which will considerably enhance the aircraft’s performance in the air to air combat.
Other possible upgrades to the JF-17 design which will be integrated onto the Block III variant include an infrared search and track system and a radar cross-section reducing ‘pseudo-stealthy’ airframe.
It is unclear if there are other changes to the airframe. However, FlightGlobal reported that the Block-III will have its “intakes widened to improve airflow.” The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) will continue using the Klimov RD-93 turbofan engine, so the inlet changes could be for optimizing the existing engine further.
One of the most noticeable modification was at the rear of the aircraft by the vertical stabilizer, a slightly enlarged spine, and integration of sensors to the vertical stabilizer and side inlet areas. The latter may be radar warning receivers (RWR) and/or missile alert warning systems (MAWS).
The PAF currently intends to procure 50 JF-17 Block IIIs. CAC and PAC will roll-out 12 per year from 2022 to 2025.