Paris Air Show 2013: Twin-seat FC-1/JF-17 breaks cover
Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) revealed a twin-seat model of its Chengdu Aircraft Corporation FC-1 export fighter at the Paris Air Show 2013.
The single-seat version is co-developed and co-produced by Pakistan, which calls it the JF-17 Thunder. A two seat FC-1 has been contemplated since at least 2004, although AVIC officials would not say when a prototype would appear.
Officials refused to comment directly on the two-seat variant's potential performance other than to say that would be only "slightly less" capable in most parameters. They said that the twin-seat FC-1 compensated for the loss of fuel space - and related range - that second seat created by using an elevated and enlarged spine that also conferred more stability and allowed for a smaller vertical stabiliser.
The idea of a twin-seat version of the FC-1/JF-17 was first mentioned by a Pakistan Air Force official at a 2004 defence exhibition. Since then Pakistani and Chinese officials have offered conflicting opinions about the program's status: Chinese officials have usually denied or downplayed the program while Pakistani officials have been skeptical about funding.
The appearance of the model at Paris suggests that AVIC sees potential in the program - and that funding has been found. The model in Paris was shown with full weapons outfit. When asked about potential power plants for the FC-1, AVIC officials confirmed that a FC-1 prototype had been flying with a Chinese-designed turbofan engine, but said it was not yet ready for export and that testing would be needed for several more years.
Source: Robert Foster, Paris - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly News / defenceforumindia.com - 16 June 2013
Photo: The Pakistan Air Force Twin-seat FC-1/JF-17 Multirole Fighter Training Aircraft./ AVIC showed off a twin-seat model of an Chinese FC-1/JF-17 Xiaolong at Paris (Photo by Chenjun / Airliners.net)