China Aviation News (CAN) reports that the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) received a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter at its Aircraft Maintenance Factory in Chengfei for major overhaul on November 07.
The specific fighter has been in service with the PAF since 2007. According to CAN, this will be a joint pilot program between China and Pakistan, and will support the Chinese aviation industry’s wider transition to supporting current generation Chinese-made export fighters from previous generation models. According to Sina News, a separate major overhaul facility will be built at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).
The Chengfei facility has long been undertaking maintenance work for Chengdu J-7/F-7 and J-10 fighters for overseas and domestic users, respectively. The JF-17 is the first of AVIC’s new generation fighters to require major overhaul, making this an important project for AVIC as it continues marketing the Thunder as well as its contemporaries, i.e. the FC-20 and L-15.
The JF-17 is a mainstay fighter of the PAF. As of September 2017, PAC had rolled out 90 JF-17 Block-I and Block-II fighters, which are in use by four fighter squadrons and a training unit with the Sargodha-based Combat Commanders School (CCS). Being a multi-role platform, the JF-17 has been tasked with air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea roles. The fleet logged 19,000 cumulative flight hours by April 2016.