Pakistani JF-17 Block III fighter development advances

The Pakistani JF-17 Block III fighter jet will make its first flight by the end of 2019, according to Flight Global.

Pakistani JF 17 Block III fighter development advances JF-17 Block II of the Pakistani Air Force (Picture Source: Pakistani Air Force)

Among the development, questions are selecting a model of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. The official told Flight Global that a decision on this end should be right "around the corner." The media outlet noted that a pair of Chinese AESA radars are under consideration: the KLJ-7A, produced by China Electronics Technology Group, and an air-cooled radar produced by AVIC.

For electronic warfare systems, the new version of the JF-17 will utilize either Chinese- or European-made hardware, Flight Global said.

The official told the media outlet that "another engine is in mind" for the Block III, without giving further detail. Pakistan has previously considered replacing the Russian-origin RD-93 engine with a Chinese-made alternative, but the RD-93, which powers the Block Is and IIs presently in service with the Pakistani Air Force, have not posed any problems.

Even so, Flight Global noted that the Block III upgrade "will see the JF-17’s intakes widened to improve airflow," possibly enabling the installation of a new engine later on. The new intake will be available only on new-build Block IIIs, but the other upgrades can be provided to the Pakistani Air Force's existing JF-17s.