Images have emerged on Chinese online forums showing what appears to be one of the first Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 Thunder/FC-1 Xiaolong multirole combat aircraft on order for the Myanmar Air Force (MAF) conducting test flights in China.
Released around 13 June the images show a single-seat JF-17/FC-1 with the standard camouflage and tail insignia of the MAF being flight-tested at what appears to be CAC's airfield in Chengdu.
Diplomatic sources told Jane's in December 2015 that Myanmar had signed a contract earlier that year for 16 such aircraft at a unit cost of USD16 million.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, sources told Jane's in February 2017 that these aircraft will be of the Block II variant, which was first rolled out from the PAC's Kamra plant in 2015 and which, unlike the Block I variant, features an air-to-air refuelling capability and improved avionics and electronics.
China's state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) - CAC's parent company - is believed to also be providing technical assistance to Myanmar as the aircraft replaces the MAF's ageing Chengdu J-7 fighters, which were exported as the F-7M Airguard and acquired in the 1990s.
Myanmar is widely believed to be the first export customer for the Sino-Pakistani fighter, deliveries of which are expected to begin before the end of 2017.
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