August 8th, 2010
The joint Pakistan-China developed combat aircraft designated JF-17 / FC-1 has made its international trade debut at Farnborough Airshow 2010. The Farnborough Airshow is an international aerospace trade show held in Hampshire, England and attracts attendees from around the globe.
The JF-17 represents a low-cost fighter in the class of the Gripen, F-16, Mirage-2000 albeit with technological enhancements such as a DSI intake similar to the F-35 and a MMI (Man-Machine Interface) in the same league as the Eurofighter and Rafale. At a price tag of $20 million, it significantly undercuts its Western competitors and provides a viable alternative for countries cash-strapped in the global recession.
There has been growing apprehension by US and European manufacturers of a loss of the lower end combat aircraft market to emerging countries while increasingly facing obsolescence and lack of demand for higher end combat aircraft. The Chinese J-10, South Korean KFX / T-50, Russian MiG-35 and Su-27 derivatives all represent this challenge.
The JF-17 remains the most potent of these challenges as it provides a viable replacement for aging MiG-21s, Mirages, F-5s and older model F-16s with the West's nearest challenge the F-35 increasingly proving to be over-priced, under-performing, over-engineered and politically non-viable for countries seeking an independent foreign policy.