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JF-17 Block-II production crosses 30 planes
April 23, 2017
The Pakistan Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat being briefed on one of the newer JF-17 Block-IIs. Photo credit: Inter Services Public Relations

JF-17 Block-II production crosses 30 planes

Recent photos from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) show that JF-17 Block-II production has reached 33 aircraft (2P-33), showing that production of the variant has crossed the half-way mark. Moreover, it appears that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s Block-II production run could conclude in 2017. These second-half (i.e. 2P-25/26-50) units are also configured for in-flight refuelling, albeit through a removable probe on the starboard side of the fighter.

Notes & Comments:

In December 2016, PAC announced that it delivered a total of 70 JF-17s to the PAF since the fighter was inducted in 2010-2011. This would mean that 20 JF-17 Block-IIs were inducted (in 2016), but this figure evidently did not include the total number of Block-II fighters produced. Considering that 16 JF-17s were built in 2015, PAC must have rolled out at least 17 JF-17s in 2016.

PAC may have also produced units for export. It is not clear if these units are counted in the “2P-XX” bracket. PAC is aiming to gradually increase its annual production to 20-24 aircraft. However, if the PAF’s Block-II needs are fulfilled in 2017, PAC would be able to commit the remaining year(s) until JF-17 Block-III for exports. PAC could actively pursue new customers, such as Azerbaijan, and follow-on orders from current customers in 2017-2018. This is assuming the PAF does not opt to order additional JF-17 Block-IIs.

Another variable is the twin-seat JF-17B. The JF-17B was supposed to have been test flown by the end of 2016. The PAF could procure the JF-17B as an operational conversion unit (OCU) system and potentially lead-in fighter-trainer (LIFT). It is not known if the JF-17B orders would come from the existing Block-II run (for 50 planes) or if it would amount to additional orders. The PAF’s additional Block-II orders could come in the form of JF-17Bs, albeit at a lower rate, leaving a substantial – if not most – of PAC open for exports.

Overall, 2017 would be opportune for phasing out the F-7P. Currently, squadrons No. 14 and No. 18 are the only units flying the F-7P and FT-7P, respectively. If the PAF were to transition No. 14 to the JF-17, it would simply have No. 18, which serves as an OCU squadron. The JF-17B would be a natural fit for No. 18.

  • Steve

    Is there a timeframe to retrofit Block III avionics etc in the first 2 blocks? It of course will be after Block III is introduced but any provisional dates?

  • mazhar

    Supplementing Steve’s question furthure, can Block1 be fitted with AESA? with or without and structural/engine changes?

    • Steve

      I am not sure how many professionals able to answer that question are on this forum. I am sure there are rules about not publicising policy matters. We enthusiasts can just hope and wait for official news. What a pain! lol

      • Abdul Rashid

        Steve, here’s a relevant link to an older Quwa article looking at the potential (likely?) AESA option:

        http://quwa.org/2016/11/11/discussion-with-klj-7a-could-an-aesa-radar-equipped-jf-17-come-sooner/

        In even earlier Quwa articles there was speculation the Block-III nose cone was to undergo a “nose job” to accommodate the AESA radar. This ‘info’ was from one of Quwa’s respected commenters who has family links to PAF and has had a chance to visit PAF Miranshah Air Base.

        However, since the release of the KLJ-7A image, it appears the size, shape of the new radar is similar to radar used in current Block-I/II. Perhaps it can be fitted to earlier blocks. Another problem is the RD-93 engine might be underpowered to utilise the new AESA radar. So it is more than just a case of being able to fit the radar itself onto earlier blocks.

        A lot of maybes, likelys, hopefullys and to cap it all, I’m no expert in the field either. Maybe Bilal can give more concrete info whenever his time zone allows.

        • Steve

          Excellent info thanks! I don’t think we can do much about RD-93 without a major redesign. Chinese engine may be custom built of JF17 and may be optimum.

          • Abdul Rashid

            If the Chinese engine can be fitted to the existing JF-17 airframe and if the new AESA radar is custom designed for the JF-17, as it appears to be, then we are onto a winner. It would mean the entire JF-17 fleet could in a few years time consist of AESA equipped fighters with a more powerful engine. Imagine that! Several squadrons of multi-role, sanction proof fighters kitted out with as many top notch goodies as we can afford, need and, most importantly, utilise as we see fit. Anytime, anyplace. No Uncle Sam to seek clearance from.

          • mazhar

            Wow, my initial comments came this far. Steve, now you know how many of the readers have the same doubts which I have, We got a chance to be done with US, we should avail it, F-16 should be considered forgotten story, latest F-16 with AESA goes up to par Rafale’s price tag. Very very risky move if we go towards the F-16s, they will carry a huge US wishes package, which now, brother I have gotten sick of carrying. Thunder has given us a lot more confidence, we should not forget to thank Russians for their uninterrupted RD93 supply, had it been USA, you can imagine that Thunder project wouldn’t have even started. I got my answers about AESA. Let’s hope for the best and keep trying for SU-35/37, just for the sake of a potent deterrence/long range and THRUST VECTORING bird.
            Mr.Adbul Rashid, congrats for your own AF base. By the way, in Washington, there is going to be a 4 year long comedy show waiting for us, headed by none other than Donald Duck.
            Let’s see if Bilal let my these comments get through.

          • Rizwan

            So considering what all the smart people in this discussion are saying, why is the PAF groveling before the US through the Pakistani Ambassador? Are they stupid or what? I don’t understand their angle.

          • mazhar

            I don’t get it either, why PAF/PAK is doing this. What PAF will get? a few jets (may be) with an oversized package of instructions and demands.

          • Steve

            It’s not grovelling but putting out feelers which is appropriate, but would prefer a higher level private interaction. Need a major effort to mobilise overseas Pakistanis in USA a lot of whom are US citizens and high income professionals to lobby congress effectively. Use firms on K street which everyone does. We don’t have to buy with ridiculous conditions that are not in our interest. If they come subsided, soon, in numbers, and with all the bells and whistles why say no.

        • Nas

          Wtf engine power has to do with redar. Electronics doesn’t run on engine thrusts, it shows how stupid some comments are in here

          • Abdul Rashid

            Welcome to Quwa, Mr. Nas. I have not seen you here before but what an entrance, eh? Before calling others comments “stupid”, it would not harm to make a query in a more friendly manner, would it?

            I will quote you some details from an older Quwa article and comment by Bilal Khan. This might shed some light on your ‘query’:

            Question: “WTF engine power has to do with radar?”

            Answer: “One of the general challenges with AESA radars is the impact these radars can have on weight and power consumption in the fighter. If the PAF intends to include AESA radars with the intention of maintaining or even improving the radar detection and engagement range of the Block-2, it will need a lighter airframe and MORE POWERFUL ENGINE”.

            – See more at: http://quwa.org/2015/10/17/jf-

            ——————————————————————————————-
            Not a comprehensive answer to your ‘query’ but I hope it has helped.

          • GhalibKabir

            what Abdul says is very true, Engine power has everything to do with powering an AESA radar, advanced power cooled jammer etc.. The advanced electronics on-board dictate such a necessity.

    • Depends on the weight and size of the AESA radar and its cooling systems. As mentioned earlier by Abdul Rashid & co, the KLJ-7A might be very similar in its dimensions and weight to the KLJ-7V2, then yes, it is plausible.

  • Rizwan

    I wouldn’t be so optimistic. I would expect some conditions attached to the sale. Gen Mattis seems to favor a “carrot and stick” approach to Pakistan. Then we also have to consider the possibility that F-16 manufacturing may shift to India. Where will that leave us? With the unending Indian spite for Pakistan, they might sign the contract with General Dynamics just so they can control F-16 spare parts.

    • fapple fapple

      Very true. I personally for a while held the opinion that Pakistan should covertly reverse engineer the F-16 in order to ensure the availability of spare parts if the Indians manage to achieve their goal of attaining production rights; however, I have now shifted to the belief that it would not be economical or worthwhile as the F-16 would become obsolete by the time Pakistan could accomplish this, especially when tasked with working with great secrecy. Pakistan should continue to focus on the JF-17 Thunder which arguably is comparable in overall performance to the F-16.

      • Abdul Rashid

        I agree with you Mr. Fapple. JF-17 is probably the safer bet. Why bother with F-16? Once bitten, twice shy as they say. Sounds like we need to be bitten a thousand times before we learn our lesson. JF-17 Block-III holds promise. Hopefully it will help us get over our F-16 love affair.

        Anyway, here is an original photo of both aircraft together, taken at PAF Base Abdul-Rashid…..

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a41cb28bb8dbd0525bff0086206b24dfb2ffbf5023134a4ab292a2405182f792.jpg

        • Syed Bushra

          i no longer have any love for F-16 considering the pain Pakistan has been put through for these birds. I don’t blame US for using these jets as a tool of foreign policy, I do blame our leaders for inviting this headache. Then again, I’m not the one who is in charge of defending Pakistan’s borders. Its much easier for me to say all this.

  • SP

    I am against buying any more F-16 which has had its day. As far Gen. Mattis is concerned, the message I got from “Incentivising Pak army” was that Pakistani Generals will be bribe by CIA and Pentagon to follow orders from Washington. Although is Pakistan’s best friend the US has a vast and powerful intelligence footprint in Islamabad which gives US the impression that they can treat Pakistan like dirt but their interest will still continue to be served by their lobby groups and agents in Pakistan.

    • SP

      China is Pakistan’s best friend.

    • Steve

      If not F16 then what? Nobody will sell anything else and we have a funds problem. JF-17 is not top tier. J-31 is not ready. There is no choice. Ask the PAF they love F16.., block 50/52 is the best interim fighter. India are not that stupid to buy a fighter the PAF knows this well, and they have other choices.

      • SP

        Even if you place an order now no new F 16 will arrive within 5 years as the US wants to keep Pakistan in line and says if you dont do as told then no new toy for you on your birthday. Within the same timefrane JF-17 will be ready. Its design has already been finalised and production could start in 2018 or 2019.

  • Abdul Rashid

    Also looks like the F-16 port wing tip could do with some attention. And what’s with the USAF markings on it? There is something seriously wrong here, Rizwan.

    • Rizwan

      Oops! Now I get it, “Abdul Rashid” AFB. Joke’s on me!

      • Abdul Rashid

        LOL!, After your earlier response I was compelled to change the wording of my comment slightly to make the joke more obvious!

  • Abdul Rashid

    Nah, not too seriously into it. These are die-cast models I bought, requiring minimal assembly. The beauty is both models are the same scale, 1:100, so it is useful to compare and visual ‘in the flesh’. They sit on little stands on a shelf in my bedroom. The plan is to add other similar class single-engine fighter jets to the collection. Gripen NG and LCA Tejas (when a die-cast 1:100 model is available) are on the list.

  • Sami Shahid

    Pakistan should induct block 3 in large numbers because an AESA Radar, Helmet Mounted Display and 2 pilots in one aircraft can increase the capability of dog fight.

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