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FC-1 Xiaolong/JF-17 Thunder Successfully Takes Maiden Flight

By Prei Dy, | April 28, 2017

China's FC-1 Xiaolong has successfully completed its maiden flight on Thursday morning. (YouTube)

China's FC-1 Xiaolong has successfully completed its maiden flight on Thursday morning. (YouTube)

China's first twin-seat FC-1 Xiaolong has successfully completed its maiden flight at the CAC's air base in Chengdu, state-backed China Central Television reported.

The new aircraft, which is a variant from the original single-seat FC-1, took its maiden flight at an air base in Chengdu on Thursday morning, just a few days after it was seen conducting high-speed taxiing tests since April 24.

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According to CCTV, the integrated FC-1 Xiaolong version features the purposes of "real-life combating and teaching" and has a "long visual range, excellent air-to-air combat abilities and great air-to-ground striking power." Known for having the world's highest price-performance ration, the FC-1 Xiaolong is reported to be the third generation two-seat fighter jet of China. Similar to its predecessor, it is also capable of firing beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile SD-10 (or the PL-12 in China), according to Sina.

But unlike its original version, the FC-1 Xiaolong could accommodate up to 4,500 kilograms of payload, 25 percent higher from its predecessors. It could also fire air-to-ground missiles, anti-ship missiles, and precision-guide weapons.

Meanwhile, its design was inspired from the Chengdu J7, which is a licensed copy of the ex-Soviet's Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21. According to IHS Jane, the recent images of the aircraft posted on Chinese online forums confirmed that the FC-1 Xiaolong has bigger swept-back vertical stabilizer (as seen during the Airshow China last November) and deeper dorsal spine, which gives more fuel capacity to compensate for the added weight.

The aircraft, which said to be a dedicated trainer jet, was jointly developed by China Aviation Industry Corporation and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex under a collaboration agreement in 1999. The project had an intended budget of $450 million, the Daily Mail reported.

The light-weight multi-role jet FC-1 Xiaolong is officially named as the 'Fighter China-1 Fierce Dragon', while it known as the JF-17 Thunder or 'Joint Fighter-17 Thunder' in Pakistan.

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