The Pakistan Air Force (PAF), which unveiled JF-17 Thunder block III fighter jets in December 2021, has begun slow-rate production in March 2023, following some delays caused by supply strains of the Russian RD-93 turbofan engine as a result of economic sanctions.
JF-17 Thunder block III fighter jets were supposed to be powered by a new Russian RD-93 variant known as the RD-93MA, which generates 91kN of thrust, which is 10kN more than the current RD-93 engine, but this does not appear to have occurred, at least for the engine used on the small batches of block III fighter jets.
The key upgrade for the JF-17 Thunder Block III fighter will be a Chinese-made AESA- Active electronically scanning array- radar and PL-15E. The export variant of the PL-15, which has a range of 200km against AWACS/FRA, has a range of 145km against AWACS/FRA.
China has urged PAF to use the Chinese-developed WS-13 engine, which can generate 86kn of thrust, a minor increase in Wet thrust over the RD-93. Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) has supplied around 150 partially assembled JF-17 to Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), of which PAF has placed orders for 50 Block III, with Block-II forming the backbone of the JF-17 fleet while Block-I with basic weapons system will soon be overhauled and upgraded to Block-III standard in the near future.