PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – Today, countries in the world that are capable of producing their own fighter jets are counted on the fingers of both hands. It is a little known fact that Pakistan is one of these countries.
To be fair, the JF-17 is not all Pakistani production. This aircraft is a joint venture manufacture between two military players – the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC).
Of course, the program currently has the capabilities to develop mid-range combat aircraft. If we have to compare the JF-17 is the Pakistani equivalent of the US F-16. So far, the program costs $500 million.
The JF-17 product range is also limited, with three models under this brand developed so far – JF-17 Block 1, JF-17 Block 2 and JF-17 Block 3.
JF-17 Block 3 fighter jet is the most important for the Pakistani air force, because, as you will see in the following lines, it is a fighter that can compete with its modern foreign counterparts.
What JF-17 fighter jet really is?
Generally, these types of Pakistani planes are light and single-engine, which is to some extent an advantage in managing and performing complex air maneuvers. Its capabilities are exactly the same as those of most fighter jets in the world – they intercept planes, strike air-to-ground and air-to-air.
This also answers the next question – what weapons are integrated into the fighter. The JF-17 has various ammunition, including air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, 23 mm twin-barrel autocannon and more.
Depending on the purpose, this type of aircraft can be equipped with two types of engines – one is the Chinese Guizhou WS-13, the other is the Russian Klimov RD-93, which also drives the famous MiG-29 fighter. Whichever is the choice of the two engines, they are capable of providing the JF-17 with a speed of up to 1.8 Mach.
According to information from the Pakistani Defense Ministry, the latest JF-17 Block 3 model will have its predecessor improvements. For example – a better multifunction display, a built-in pilot helmet display, AESA radar integrated with the aircraft’s infrared target map, a new engine that will allow the JF-17 to reach a maximum speed of 2.0 Mach and more.
What JF-17 could change for the Pakistanis?
It may sound strange, but the JF-17 has the full potential to compete with the US F-16 fighter, with the potential to outrun it.
The advantage may come from the AESA radar, which will be built up of small transceivers and will allow about 80% enemy jamming. The fact that the JF-17 will receive a new electronic warfare system and upgraded avionics including a three-axis fly-by-wire digital flight control system should not be underestimated
In their fight with India for supremacy over the regional sky, this may prove to be a factor that aligns forces and puts the Pakistani Air Force on an equal footing with the Indian Air Force. But it should be noted that a possible Pakistan advantage would be above over the Russian MiG-29s of the Indian Air Force.
In the last 18 months, it has been widely rumored that India is ready to invest heavily in Russian aircraft. In addition to the MiG-29, the Indians are also capable of buys Su-30, MiG-35 and Su-57. The question is whether they will, because, on the other hand, the United States is already prepared to impose economic sanctions, mainly on the purchase of S-400 air defense missile systems.
But not only India is on the daily agenda of Pakistan. In recent years, the country has helped Allied troops track down terrorists being sought and assisted in their capture. JF-17 will strengthen the ability of Pakistani pilots to provide timely support and assistance, thus, in addition to protecting the country’s borders, consolidating the image of Pakistanis as a nation that only wants to live in a peaceful region.
Last but not least, the economic stability of the country will be important. The continued production of fighter jets by Pakistan and, accordingly, the new Block 3 model will at least keep jobs, with a tendency to even increase them. Economically speaking, this is the only plus for the standard of living in the country.
In this regard, the implementation plans of the Pakistani Ministry of Defense are impressive – Pakistan needs to have 50 GG-17 fighter jets by 2024, with the first units deployed as early as 2020.
That is why the development of the JF-17 is very important for Pakistan. This aircraft can not avoid the danger of being overthrown by the Russian S-400 system, but it is able to fully protect the Pakistani sky, even if it can afford to claim equal rights with the Indian Air Force.
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The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.