Thursday, August 17, 2006

Don't feed the dragon

Ahhhh, the 1990's. No this isn't a Clinton bash, this it all Poppy.
The "Saber-II" program started in 1990 with US assistance. The Northrop Grumman and CAC worked until 1992, the US cancelled this project. However, China managed to continue the project.
So what do we get?
The first flight of FC-1/JF-17 Thunder took place in August 2003. Five prototypes are ready by now which are undergoing testing. Pakistan will receive 10 of JF-17 Thunder aircrafts after June, 2006 for training purpose. The serial production will start in January, 2007 in Chengdu Aircraft Company.
The JF-17 Thunder possesses a third generation airframe. Mid-mounted wings and position of intakes are pretty similar to F/A-18 and helps in reducing signature. Wings are situated quite after the canopy which gives the JF-17 higher instantaneous turn rate and climb rate. Although, its overall maneuverability is 70% that of the F-16 Falcon but its high climb rate makes the aircraft able to challenge early fourth generation fighters. ...

FC-1 / JF-17 Thunder Technical Specifications

Crew 1
Length 14 Meters / 45.9318 Feet
Wingspan 9 Meters / 29.5276 Feet
Payload 3,800 kg / 8,377.57 lb
Max. Speed Mach 1.8
Max. Range 3,000 km / 1864.11 Miles
TWR 0.95
Armament One GSh-23 mm canon; fire-rate of 840 rounds/minute
Engine 1 * RD-93; generates 11,000 pounds dry and 18,300 pounds with afterburning.
Ceiling 16,500 Meters / 54,133.9 Feet
+G Limit 8.5
Unit Cost 15 Million USD

Interesting concept. Looks like a F-16 blended with a F-20. That is probably the performance envelope as well. Look at the per-unit costs. For the price of an F-22 (~$360mil per unit cost) you can buy 24 JF-17 (double the cost if you want to fold in full cost, that is 12 JF-17). You know, the ME-262 was a "transformational" and great fighter, but faced with 10-20 P-51 or P-47 - all it could do is run away. Just think about it a little.

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