Chief designer of the JF-17 Thunder fighter jet Yang Wei, also developer of the J-20 stealth fighter for the Chinese People's Liberation Army, reported in a press conference in early March 2019 that production of an advanced new variant of the combat jet, the JF-17 Block III, has been initiated. “All related work is being carried out… the third block will see the JF-17’s informatized warfare capability and weapons upgraded,” he stated. The aircraft is being developed under a joint venture between the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, and production of the fighter in Pakistan is expected to be established at a later date much as it did with the Block I and Block II variants. The new fighter is set to revolutionise Pakistani aerial warfare capabilities, incorporating an advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA)&nbsp;radar (possibly the&nbsp;Chinese made KLJ-7A), new electronic warfare systems, a new fly by wire digital flight control system, a new helmet mounted display and access to a new wider range of&nbsp;more&nbsp;sophisticated munitions. This are reported to include new longer ranged and more sophisticated air to air munitions, the PL-15 according to some reports, and possibly more advanced variants of the PL-12, which will considerably enhance the aircraft’s performance in air to air combat.Other possible upgrades to the JF-17 design which will be integrated onto the Block III variant include an infra red search and track system and a radar cross section reducing 'pseudo-stealthy' airframe. Use of a more powerful AESA radar will revolutionise the fighter’s situational awareness while at the same time minimising its radar signature to increase survivability. This radar system is expected to be more powerful than anything currently in Indian service other than the Bars passive electronically scanned array radar deployed by the Su-30MKI, and combined with new longer ranged air to air munitions, such as the PL-15 which with a 150km range currently outranges any analogues in Indian service, will provide Pakistan’s fleet with an edge in combat.&nbsp;China’s Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology is reportedly developing the new AESA radar system for the aircraft, which “can be fitted on the airframe very fast, ensuring a quick delivery time,” according to designer Yang. For the airframe itself, PAC is reportedly set to manufacture 58 percent, with Chengdu manufacturing the remaining 42 percent. The possibility for upgrading older variants of the JF-17 with new radars and avionics, particularly the JF-17 Block I which retains below average situational awareness, has also been raised. A number of foreign clients have expresses considerable interest in the fighter, which though considerably cheaper is far more sophisticated and capable than its widely marketed American analogue F-16C Fighting Falcon (though its airframe is still slower and less manoeuvrable - but capable of higher altitudes.) Among the interested parties are Egypt, Malaysia, Iran and Azerbaijan - with other states likely to follow suit particularly if the aircraft is capable of deploying high end long range missiles such as the PL-15 - which for many states would be a game changer for their aerial warfare capabilities.