Procurement: July 28, 2005

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Russia has told China it cannot export its new JF17 (also known as FC-1 and Super 7) fighter to Pakistan, even though Pakistan has paid for much of the development expenses. This is because the FC1 uses a Russian engine, the RD93. Russia does not want to offend India, a major arms customer, by being one of the suppliers for FC-1s used by Pakistan (an enemy of India). The 13 ton JF17 is meant to be a low cost ($20 million) alternative to the American F16. The JF17 is considered the equal to earlier versions of the F16, but only 80 percent as effective as more recent F16 models. The JF17 uses the same Russian engine, the RD-93, that is used in the MiG29. The JF17 design is based on a cancelled Russian project, the MiG33. Most of the JF17 electronics are Western, with Italian firms being major suppliers. The JF17; can carry 3.6 tons of weapons and use radar guided and heat seeking missiles. It has max speed of Mach 1.6, an operating range of 1,300 kilometers and a max altitude of 55,000 feet.

The JF17 first flew two years ago, and Pakistani test pilots are now participating in further flight tests. The aircraft is expected to enter service next year, but this sudden demand by the Russian engine manufacturer will require some agile diplomacy, or a new engine. China is trying to build an engine equal in performance to the RD93, but isnt quite there yet. Pakistan planned on buying 150 of the JF17s. This will probably be resolved by India scoring some diplomatic brownie points by appealing to Russia to allow the RD93 equipped JF17 to be exported. Russia will accede, and life will go on.

 


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