The single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft has been developed jointly by China and Pakistan

The new version of the fighter aircraft jointly developed by China and Pakistan with upgraded fighting capabilities made its maiden flight in December and the first batch is set to be inducted by Islamabad in 2020.

The JF-17 Block 3 aircraft was flown above Chengdu in southwest China’s Sichuan province last month, the Aerospace Knowledge magazine said in a report this week.

Pakistan had said that the existing and operational version of the aircraft, known simply as JF-17, was used against the Indian Air Force (IAF) during the dogfight along the Line of Control (LoC) early last year.

The single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft has been developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China.

China agreed to share more advanced technology from the superior J-20 fighter jets with the new JF-17 aircraft.

“The latest, powered-up version of the JF-17 fighter jet reportedly features technologies from China’s top-notch J-20 fighter jet and made its maiden flight in December, as the warplane co-developed by China and Pakistan saw major upgrades in electronic devices that will significantly increase its combat efficiency,” the state media report said.

New features include “ and larger holographic wide-angle heads-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.

“China has made a large number of achievements in the development of the likes of the J-10 and J-20, resulting in many mature technologies and equipment... If they can be used on the JF-17, the pilot could enjoy a significant efficiency increase in flying, which will also boost its combat efficiency,” Wang Ya’nan editor of the magazine told the tabloid Global Times.

The new additions to the JF-17 could give pilots more situational awareness, allowing them to focus more on combat instead of flying the aircraft, Wang said.

“The aircraft is set to operationally deploy with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in 2020 and all 50 planned JF-17 Block IIIs are expected to be inducted by 2024,” the current affairs website, the Diplomat, quoted the PAF Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan as saying last year.

“The PAF has currently 85 JF-17 Block I and II operationally deployed, although, according to recent reporting by Flight Global, the PAF has a total of 98 in-service JF-17s. That number is slated to expand to 112. The first PAF JF-17 squadron, consisting of 14 JF-17 Block I fighter aircraft, was established in 2010. The PAF currently has six operational squadrons,” it added.