Photos circulating in Chinese online forums show the first PAC/CAC JF-17 Thunder/FC-1 Xiaolong multirole combat aircraft bound for the Myanmar Air Force (MAF) undergoing flight tests at Chengdu Aerospace Corporation’s (CAC) facility in China.
The images show a single-seat JF-17/FC-1 with the standard camouflage and tail insignia of the MAF.
Myanmar signed a contract for 16 fighters on December 2015 during the Paris Air Show and is believed to be the first export customer of the FC-1/JF-17 platform . Reports also emerged that Myanmar was in talks with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to produce the FC-1 Block-III fighter equipped with AESA radar under license.
FC-1s will likely supplement the Chinese-built Chengdu F-7 and Nanchang A-5 of the MAF, acquired in the 1990s. AVIC, CAC’s parent company, is believed to be providing technical assistance to Myanmar as it replaces Chinese-built jets.
The JF-17/FC-1 is a multi-role fighter developed by CAC and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). It conducted its maiden flight in 2003. The JF-17, a subvariant configured by PAC for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), was brought into service in 2010. PAF currently operates more than 80 JF-17s.
In 2016, PAC and AVIC secured export order from Nigeria for three aircraft. The fighter was also pitched for export to Azerbaijan, Sri Lanka and Qatar.