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NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Friday, April 28, 2006

China tests new prototype of JF-17 jet fighter

AFX News: BEIJING: China tested a new prototype of the FC-1 Xiaolong combat jet jointly developed with Pakistan, and is gearing up for mass production of the plane, Xinhua news agency reported.

The fourth prototype of the Xiaolong aircraft, a multi-role fighter-bomber with a range of 1,200 kilometers, successfully completed a 16-minute test flight from a base in southwest China's Sichuan province, Xinhua said.

Production of different parts of the plane has already begun in anticipation that the plane would soon be mass produced, the report said.

'The success of the flight marks a significant improvement in the innovation capabilities of China's aviation industry and makes possible mass production of the plane,' Xinhua said.

The aircraft, also known as the JF-17, is a cooperative project between the Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group in the southwest province of Sichuan and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex.

While earlier prototypes have focused on operational flight capabilities, the fourth prototype included advanced avionics and weapons, it said.

The plane is capable of carrying multiple air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and is a 'third generation' fighter jet, one generation removed from the world's most advanced fighters.

Earlier reports had said the fourth prototype would have its maiden flight in April 2005. No explanation was provided in the report for the apparent delay.

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