China and Pakistan have signed an agreement on the joint development and production of the Chengdu FC-1/Super 7 fighter, firming up a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed two years ago.

According to Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group (CAC), the agreement was signed at the end of June during a visit to Beijing by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It was co-signed by Chinese premier Zhu Rongji. The details of the contract are not being released. CAC says the workshare packages remain to be worked out.

The aircraft is to fly in 2001 and should be in service by 2005, says CAC. It is being developed in a 50-50 partnership between the two countries, to meet a Pakistani light fighter requirement believed to number 150 aircraft. Agreement was delayed by Pakistan's financial difficulties. Pakistan also made it a pre-condition that the Chinese air force commit to the aircraft.

Avionics may be supplied by either Fiar or Thomson-CSF, after Marconi Electronic Systems, which had been pushing to enter the programme, failed to submit a tender (Flight International, 7-13 July). The winner will have to share development costs with China and Pakistan, recouping its expenditure from the production phase.

Fiar has proposed an avionics and sensor suite based around the Grifo S7 radar being developed for the Super 7, while Thomson-CSF is proposing a system built around the RC400 radar.

Source: Flight International