21:12 GMT22 June 2021
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    Pictures showing China’s two-seat, single-engine Thunder jet taking flight for the first time emerged across Chinese social media forums on Thursday.

    The aircraft, developed by China in partnership with the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, took off at a Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAIC) airport, Chinese media outlets reported. The JF-17B jet is an upgrade from the previous JF-17. It is designed for air-to-air dogfighting and providing air support against ground targets. The jet can carry beyond-visual range air-to-air missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles and other ground-target bombs. 

    The makers plan to sell the jets at a price of $25 to $32 million in hopes of seizing a great share in the global weapons market. They present a much more affordable option for buyers compared to the Lockheed Martin F-35, which runs almost $100 million per plane.

    “The JF-17B has received orders from the international market even before the maiden flight, which means our clients have a very high level of confidence in our development and production capacity,” said Yang Ying, general manager of China Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp, the trade wing of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China, which owns CAC.

    The designer of the JF-17 model said the jets were sorely needed in the current aircraft market, and that the plane that took the first flight has already been sold to a foreign buyer. 

    The JF-17B variant has one more seat that previous JF-17 planes, said Yang Wei, the engineer behind the JF-17. The Pakistani Air Force maintains five JF-17 squadrons that are currently operational, Pakistani media report.

    The jet can be used for training and combat purposes, according to AVIC. 


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    jf-17, Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC), China, Pakistan