A two-seat variant of the Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 Thunder fighter is under development, with a first flight planned for late 2016.
An official with the programme confirms that the variant will be designated JF-17B. It is being developed in response to customer requirements for a combat-capable trainer variant of the aircraft.
The only significant change to the aircraft apart from the extra seat is a dorsal fin that contains an additional fuel tank. This means the JF-17B’s fuel load is comparable to the single seater.
“There is no loss in combat capability with the addition of the extra seat,” says the official.
The JF-17 is in service with the Pakistan Air Force. At the Paris air show in June 2015, Flightglobal confirmed that the type had secured its first foreign customer. The identity of this buyer and the number of aircraft it is obtaining remain have yet to be disclosed.
Powered by a single Klimov RD-93 engine, the JF-17 is pitched as an affordable, yet capable, fighter for developing world air forces.