ISLAMABAD – Chengdu Aircraft Industry on Thursday successfully tested the twin seater, trainer version of JF-17B. The jet fighter, currently only in service of Pakistan Air Foce, is result of joint efforts by China and Pakistan.

It is expected that the move will significantly bolster the training capabilities for the JF-17 series of jet fighters. The 2-seater version is also expected to attract accolades internationally.

Both Pakistan and Chinese air forces have been working on JF-17B’s prototype since April 2016. Currently, the JF-17B is entering the testing phase. Aviation journalist Alan Warnes reports (via AirForces Monthly) that three JF-17Bs are under production, two of which will join the PAF.

 According to aviation journalist Alan Warnes, three JF-17B are already under production. Two of these are expected to join PAF soon.

The new JF-17B has three axis fly-by-wire flight control system and active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar

Besides the additional seat, the upgraded JF-17B comes with major design changes including a dorsal spine. Experts suggest that the dorsal spine is actually added to accommodate fuel since the second seat is taking additional space in the interior.

According to Warnes, JF-17B’s swept tail houses equipment for a new three axis fly-by-wire flight control system. The nose also gets a size increase to accommodate an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar which will be core subsystem for the upcoming JF-17 Block-III – the biggest update to the JF-17 since its launch.

Particularly designed for combat and training

 The new JF-17B variant has been particularly designed to meet international demands of prospective buyers who called for in-flight evaluation and conversion training. At the moment, PAF uses simulators for conversion training, according to ProPakistani.

JF-17B comes with commercially available Electronic Warfare (EW) jamming pods and advanced targeting pods. These could potentially be used for strikes or stand-off EW platform.

There are more than 70 JF-17s in service with the PAF, and the PAF is expected to place its order for 50 Block-IIIs in 2017. CAC and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) have also secured export orders from Myanmar and Nigeria, according to Quwa.