China and Pakistan have signed a letter of intent (LOI) covering development of the FC-1 light fighter, breaking a long hiatus in the programme's progress.
The single seat Chengdu FC-1, effectively a successor to the Super-7 programme, is intended for the air forces of both countries. Pakistan is understood to have committed verbally to procuring up to 150 of the type.
The LOI, signed in Beijing in mid-February, covers airframe development. A mock-up of the aircraft's cockpit was on display at the Singapore air show.
Beijing sources suggest that the bid process for the aircraft's avionics and radar will get fully under way by the middle of the year. The 10t-class fighter will be equipped with a multi-mode pulse Doppler radar. Russia's Phazotron says that it will propose the Kopyo, while Italy's Fiar could put forward a variant of its Grifo. GEC-Marconi's Blue Hawk and Thomson-CSF's RD-400 lightweight radar may also be offered.
An indigenous pulse Doppler radar, the JL-10A, is being pursued by Chinese electronics specialist CLETRI , with help from Russia.
The planar antenna is from Phazotron, as is the transmitter. While this radar may be intended for the Chengdu F-10 programme, a smaller variant may be pushed for the FC-1.
The FC-1 is intended to be equipped with short range dogfight missiles as well as beyond visual range active radar-guided missiles, along with a variety of air to surface ordnance in the attack role. A mock-up of the FC-1 is thought to have been built, and an initial in-service date is likely after 2005.
Chengdu has received design assistance on the FC-1 from Russia's MIG MAPO, with engine manufacturer Klimov proposing a version of the MiG-29 Fulcrum's RD-33 powerplant.