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Pakistan Aeronautical Complex delivered 70 JF-17s to the Pakistan Air Force
July 22, 2017

Pakistan Aeronautical Complex delivered 70 JF-17s to the Pakistan Air Force

Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) delivered a total of 70 JF-17 Block-I and Block-II multi-role fighters to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) since the fighter’s induction in the PAF in 2010-2011 (Radio Pakistan).

The figure was released by PAC during a hearing with the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence Production on Wednesday, 07 December.

Besides noting recent export successes with the Super Mushshak, PAC also affirmed its success in restoring the PAF’s Saab Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

Notes & Comments:

The PAF’s JF-17s are currently deployed in four operational fighter units – i.e. No. 2 at PAF Masroor, Combat Commanders School (CCS) at PAF Mushaf, and No. 16 and No. 26 at PAF Peshawar.

In December 2015, PAC announced that it had successfully rolled out 16 JF-17 in 2015, indicating that it is in better shape to help the PAF in its goal of replacing 190 legacy F-7P and Mirage III/5.

Currently, the PAF has a firm requirement for 150 JF-17s divided across three production blocks, i.e. Block-I, Block-II, and Block-III. The Block-III is envisaged to incorporate an active electronically-scanned array radar, helmet-mounted display and sight system, and updated electronic warfare and countermeasures.

Recent news reports posit that the PAF intends to increase this requirement to 250 units, which, despite being mentioned frequently, has yet to see direct confirmation from the PAF. However, this route would not be surprising considering that it would be the most affordable method to phase out its remnant legacy units (i.e. the F-7PG and Mirage ROSE) and/or add AESA-equipped fighters in the 2020s.

The first twin-seat Thunder – i.e. JF-17B – should also be rolling out in the coming weeks. It is likely that the JF-17B will serve as the PAF’s lead-in fighter-trainer (LIFT).

Post Notes:

With 70 units, there are about as many JF-17s in the PAF as there are F-16s. In effect, the JF-17 is clearly among the PAF’s essential fighter platforms. The nearing presence of the JF-17B could not be more timely considering that a substantial portion of the fighter fleet is comprised of the JF-17, which will now expand to becoming the most pervasive fighter in the PAF.

The remaining 80 units will comprise of Block-II (30) and Block-III (50) fighters. Replacing older F-7P and non-Retrofit Strike Element (ROSE) upgraded Mirage III/5 units will likely take priority. In terms of F-7Ps, the No. 14 (formerly F-16) unit at PAF Minhas would be the sole candidate. It would be worth observing if some of the remaining Block-IIs are switched to the dual-seat JF-17B, which would then open Mianwali’s No. 18 unit, which uses F-7P and dual-seat FT-7Ps as operational conversion units (OCU). With the Block-II, the PAF could fully close the book on the F-7P. Furthermore, a JF-17 OCU unit would not only feed No. 18, but No. 2, No. 14, No. 16, and No. 26. That OCU element bridge from a LIFT curriculum, possibly at the same unit, but to prepare prospective JF-17, Mirage, and potentially even F-16 candidates.

This would also leave the much-improved Block-III to replace the non-ROSE Mirage III/5.

The inclusion of the Aselsan ASELPOD advanced targeting pod will equip PAF JF-17s with precision-guided air-to-ground strike capabilities. While this capability has been marketed by AVIC via numerous Chinese targeting pods and air-to-ground munitions, the PAF has opted for Aselsan’s solution. It is not known what form the JF-17’s laser-guided bombs will take, though a solution mirroring the Paveway – i.e. a guidance kit for Mk-8x series general purpose bombs – is plausible. With No. 2’s maritime focus, it is possible that the tactical strike role could be given to No. 16 and/or No. 23.

  • Andrei Romanov

    It’s Good, but not enough PAC need to produce more JF-17.

    • Steve

      Totally agree. Expected export orders will require increased capacity.

      • Andrei Romanov

        Yeah

  • Kashif

    What would be the prime motive for going for block-I?

  • Donny G

    Production of JF-17 at PAC should increase from 16 to 24 units a year to keep up with export orders.

    • John Rue

      I thought that is what PAF claimed in the start of 2016.

      • This is what PAC is saying it handed over to the PAF, doesn’t necessarily include what’s in production and running through trials (after roll-out).

  • Shershahsuri

    As JF-17 Block-3 is nearing to production whether new power plant has been decided or not. Though Block-3 will be superior in avionics yet its range and payload are still not known. If it has to replace F-16 as the front line air craft of Pak it must catch up with the range and pay load of F-16. Mean while US is considering to resume military aid to Pakistan. Will Pakistan go F-16 again or V-upgrade of F-16s? Mr.Bilal Comments please.

    • John Rue

      who told you US is considering to resume military aid? US will never risk annoying India. Things have got changed now.

      • Steve

        I agree Pakistan should establish contact with Trump’s transition team immediately which I hear they are doing. Trump has thrown out the rule book and there is a window of opportunity. The old State Department narrative about the unmentionables next door can possibly be overcome. The phone call was no chance happening like people would have you believe. I hope the civilian and military leadership exploit this efficiently and with political and diplomatic vigour. We need 36 F16V at subsidised rate asap and more later, as we are fighting the West’s war on terror, and have taken 60,000 casualties. It is the best platform to efficiently target militants day and night. This, combined with agreement to step up the Afghan peace process may work. Some deft political/diplomatic footwork is needed.

    • The JF-17 Block-III will replace the non-ROSE Mirage III/5. Any JF-17s after that will likely replace the Mirage ROSE and F-7PG. Still all lightweight fighters. The PAF is planning to replace the F-16A/B MLU with the next-gen fighter. For discussion’s sake let’s assume that is FC-31, then the PAF is basically swapping out an old medium-weight design for a new medium-weight (albeit twin-engine) platform.

      As for U.S. aid. If resumed, it’ll be COIN-centric, perhaps more so in that it’ll be channeled to direct ops spending, post-ops reconstruction, and ops-related equipment such as MRAPs and attack or utility helicopters. But you never know these days, Trump might end up letting a little pass to get LM to build a few more F-16s for Pakistan as part of some ‘keeping jobs at home’ strategy.

      • Shershahsuri

        Thanks

  • Sami Shahid

    Pakistan should definitely produce 250 JF-17’s. Replacing F-16’s with FC-31 or any other should be a side business.

    • Shakeel

      Your finger is on the pulse Sami. A well thought out plan.

  • Mahendra Baberwal

    Better than india ahed of tejas.We r far behind in makeing tejas

  • Bilal Zaman

    If POF is serious about JF-17 then I’m hoping they have opted for a newer engine for Block 3.
    Now this is just my fantasy, a twin jet fighter maybe JF-19 or something with similar airframe. It could potentially be a competitor of the hornets. Lol I know I’m imagining way too much but it could happen. Frankly J-31 looks like long shot to me. I don’t think we’ll be ready for it sooner than a decade.

  • Mola Jat

    I think it’s time to ditch F16 for good…and produce your own fighter jets.F16 are piece of junk anyway .no one wants them….

    • Steve

      With respect I disagree. PAF looks at the F16 block 50/52 as its high end fighter. We really need another 70 in its V upgrade, 250 AESA/HMCS JF17 with serious missiles, 40 J31, and a 2-3 squadron long range naval force to establish conventional air deterrence for the next 2-2.5 decades. That’s a reasonable force number for a large nuclear power of 200 million. Even the Egyptians and the Turks have >200 F16’s each. Still way below the numbers the unmentionables field across the border but at least they won’t think of any adventures to impress their immature public. We should be prepared to work with the Americans especially since things may be different now.

    • Andrei Romanov

      Iraqi air force bought new F-16 on higher price than usual price why are they mad?
      Look I am a Russian I should not praise American F-16 but i would say F-16 is best single engine fighter and it gives tougher competition to dual engine fighters too.

  • Jetsetter

    Really ‘mola jay’ the F16s are junk? You might be the only person on the platform with that view

  • Hashim Rasheed

    I personally dont think that the F-16s are going away any time soon. Primarily the JF-17 has been used to make up the numerical capacity of the PAF, as the Block-I was very limited in its capacity. While the Block-II is an improvement, in my opinion, it is the development of the Block-III that will truly mark the introduction of a technologically modern aircraft.

    It is a known fact that the Block-III will have an AESA radar, HMD & S, integration of a targeting pod for precision strikes, and improved ECM and avionics suite, PAF might just introduce some stealth features in the Block-III to bring the aircraft not only at par with its contemporaries, but maybe make it a better fit for countries with limited financial budgets looking for an upgrade on their legacy fighter platforms

    • Steve

      I agree. The Block III is the minimum needed for a shooting war, attempted coercion or escalation by our sworn enemy next door. The older blocks will need to be retrofitted. The PAF are not unaware of this and appear to be working on it. Stealth except for RAM will probably not happen.

  • Andrei Romanov
  • Kashif

    Talking about US i guess..hhmm

  • Steve

    A country with a industrial capacity such as India cannot produce high end products such as you mention without a lot of foreign help. By asking for a gold plated product in the very beginning means you either buy foreign and accept that you will not support local industry, or wait 30 years! PAF approach to induct an acceptable product in blocks with retrofits means a good fighter fit for local needs immediately, and a final product that will be as good as any out there. A sensible incremental approach without the pretension that we are a first would country able to produce a F22!

    • Saptarshi Dasgupta

      Brother we cannot afford to jeopardise defence preparedness since we have two nuclear armed neighbours ever ready to attack us. We learn and develop the stuff. Rockets and Cryogenic engines and Satellites and satellite launchers we have mastered. We are mastering medical science. We are leaders in IT and telecom. Stealth Warship building and nuclear submarines also we have mastered , we are mastering artillery now. Its a matter of time we master Battle Tanks, Rifles and Fighters. We have developed but our forces want world class products. IAF was not happy with PAK-FA so it requested for newer engines, better radar, better cockpit and EW systems in FGFA. Like PAF or PAKistan army we are not for the block concept since Pakistan faces no threat from a democracy like India but India faces a communist China. So we do not take risk.

      • Steve

        Good luck with your “mastery” of so many diverse fields, and thanks for providing a list of achievements. However your last comment is amusing to say the least. Pakistan was dismembered by democratic India not long ago. All your leaders from PM down are openly threatening to do the same again in Baluchistan. To say Pakistan is not threatened by nice, kind, and democratic India is a story better suited to narrate to the West rather than people who have been at the receiving end.

      • Waqas

        Canada USA UK NATO EUROPE .all have good living standards for their citizens
        WHY NOT??? CHINA – INDIA- PAK make a pool and increase their spending on their citizens instead of ARMs

  • Steve

    You are probably right about the senate but we don’t have to “give up” anyone, just facilitate the Afghan peace process and allow Trump to exit Afghanistan after declaring victory, while configuring the peace to suit our needs and exit the Indians who have no border with that country but are interfering anyway. We need smart people in Washington who can talk and use methods to influence. They also need to be less transactional and especially keep personal benefits out of the discussion with people in DC. With the present lot even if we give up Taliban and CPEC they still won’t get anything in return but visas for their relatives and their kids in Ivy League schools unfortunately. With people like an ex-ambassador masqurading as academics and working against us in the pay of enemy forces what do you expect. Borrowing a term from Trump, “the swamp” need to be drained, only a different type of swamp! My point is military force, politics and diplomacy are interlinked and one cannot function without the other, something the army should think about.

  • Mohammad Zeeshan Fahd

    QUWA : what is this JF-17S ……. or you just wanted to mention the plural of JF-17 ….. like many JF-17 = JF-17s or is it really something else ?

  • OSD

    Are these 70 JF-17 fighters in addition to the 50 planes that was to be provided by China a couple of years ago? Or this is the total fleet strength?

    • Total.

      • OSD

        So the 50 planes from China are still pending or canceled?

        • The 50 planes bought from China are the PAF’s Block-I units, these were assembled at PAC.

          The 20 remaining planes are Block-II units co-produced by CAC and PAC under the workshare agreement (48% to CAC to 52% to PAC).

  • OSD

    The main requirement of the IAF were to replace the Mig-21. Mig-27 and Sepecat Jaguar. The LCA Tejas was developed to do that but extreme mismanagement has left the IAF with a half developed product costing billions of dollars and no aircraft to field in place of the old fighters.

    If we compare the approach of the IAF to the PAF, the thing to realize is that, even in its most basic form, the JF-17 is still a better fighter than the older ones such as the F-7PG, Mirages and Mig-21. So starting production would allow the PAF to replace the old fighters and also test out the new JF-17 for improvement. For totally inexplicable reasons, the IAF was unable to do that with the LCA Tejas.

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