Pakistan expected to order its JF-17 Block-IIIs in 2017
October 16, 2017

Pakistan expected to order its JF-17 Block-IIIs in 2017

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is expected to place its formal order for 50 JF-17 Block-IIIs from the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in the first half of 2017, reports Alan Warnes (on Asian Military Review).

These are part of the initial allotment of 150 JF-17s the PAF committed to when it signed onto the program in 1999. Currently, the PAF has more than 70 JF-17s in service, with PAC crossing 30 JF-17 Block-IIs by 2017 and on-track to rolling out another 14 single-seat Block-IIs in 2017.

Three two-seater JF-17Bs will also be built, of which two will be assigned to the PAF. Alan Warnes learned that these JF-17Bs will be used in “testing and development” for accelerating weapons integration.

Air Marshal Arshad Malik, the Chairman of PAC, was also enthusiastic about the JF-17’s export prospects, noting that PAC’s production output could be increased to “cope with future exports.”

Currently, 3 and 16 JF-17s are on order by Nigeria and Myanmar, respectively. Azerbaijan is reportedly re-interested in the JF-17, while Myanmar is reportedly in talks for additional fighters.

Regarding the JF-17 Block-III, Warnes noted that the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technologies (NRIET) KLJ-7A and a Leonardo radar (possibly Vixen 1000) are viewed as the leading options for the Block-III’s active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar requirement.

Notes & Comments:

Based on the wording of the article, it appears that JF-17 Block-III production is scheduled to begin shortly after the conclusion of the PAF’s Block-II run.

While the AESA radar bid has narrowed to the KLJ-7A and a Leonardo system, the issues of helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S) systems, new electronic warfare and electronic countermeasures, and new munitions are still open. However, seeing that the Block-III program will be put into motion this year, there may be industry traction in each of these issues through 2017.

It also appears, though unconfirmed, that once currently set exports are completed, PAC will only produce Block-IIIs (for export and domestic use alike). In fact, Alan Warnes stated that PAC will “not halt” JF-17 production between Block-II and Block-III, meaning, prospective export customers from late 2017 or early 2018 will see the JF-17 Block-III.


  • mazhar

    Good to hear. Any news about the engine replacement from RD93 to RD33 or WS-13? I heard RD33 is smokeless and has more power than RD93. Also a newly designed thrust vectoring nozzle (TVN) is now available for RD33. That will be great to see Thunder with TVN, if it’s possible with the current airframe of JF-17.

    • augustine

      mazhar, if I am to answer your question, it will be pages upon pages, a very long analysis. I resist that temptation.

      I will rather say this: You can never know the full technical capabilities of combat aircraft unless the end user tells you all the classified secrets that all the component manufacturers told them or hid from them. You may never know which fighter aircraft will win a combat engagement air to air until they meet in real war and the pilots are equally good, then the victor is the better aircraft.

      Meanwhile, speculation is not bad. People should think and analyse the two aircraft you mentioned, it helps air forces see things they overlooked.

    • Superior Shakeel

      to answer your question in short no there is no confirmed news of such a engine replacement and no plans of Thrust vectoring nozzle its not that easy to combine TVN without modifying flight control system also the R93 we are using are from the chinese stock we have not bought a single engine from russia directly also there is the impending issue of MRO as well.

      if there is one thing dragging this plane down is the lack of a quality engine i seriously wish if the arab/qatari offer to mate the JF-17 with EJ200 engine is true then we should grab it with all hands that would make this plane a total beast but i havent heard anything concrete on that front either 🙁

    • augustine

      Sorry mazhar, my reply was mean to answer shafeeque. Names got mixed up.

  • nob hamid gul

    It seems that block 4 is now a reality.

    • Ahmad Shah Durrani

      I would prefer that we license build J-31 stealth fighter after finishing the Block III production. We can either build a new factory to manufacture J-31 or end the production of JF-17 and retool the factory to manufacture J-31.

  • Shafeeque Ahmed

    Great to know that Pakistan will build a 4+ generation aircraft Alhamdolilah.will JF 17 block 3 be able to stand against IAF rafale??

    • OSD

      The JF-17 is a great aircraft but it was never meant to compete with a Dasault Rafale. It is suitable for missions which will be unfeasible for a twin seat plane. The IAF has also limited its Rafale orders to only 36 planes and wants to order a single engine plane instead.

      • fapple fapple

        Please correct me if I’m wrong but as far as I know, there is a good chance that India may choose to induct an additional 18 or so Rafales into its Navy.

  • Sami Shahid

    Why just 3 dual seat JF-17’s will be built ? PAF should induct 5 dual seat JF-17’s in the new squad.

    • OSD

      From what I understand, the PAF never really required a two seat JF-17. This is only being done to cater to export market requirements for a type trainer.

  • MT

    What is the time frame of this project? Probably the development work is in full swing at chengdu.
    So depending upon the Aesa bid, final integration work will commence??

  • John Rue

    at the rate of 20 aircrafts per year it will take PAC 10 years to produce 200 more aircrafts.

    • Zill e Hussnain

      Pakistan requires 250 JF-17 Thunders to replace old F-7s and Mirage III & V, since PAF will have 100 Thunders in two blocks in 2017, they only require 150 more and with current production rate it will take 7.5 years which will be in 2025, that is exactly when PAF wants to induct 5th generation aircraft

    • sucker punch

      Yes. That is why most of the aircrafts will be manufactured in China. Pakistan’s production capacity will be increased when export orders start to pour in.

  • Khalid Taj

    I dont understand why people make RD93’s smoke an issue. 1600+ mig 29 were produced with same smoky engine. Indian airforce flies same smoky Mig29. PAF was well aware of RD93’s smokness still it picked the engine. I am sure they had reason to use such engine.

    • Ahmad Shah Durrani

      Mig 29 was built in 1970s and the smokey engine may not have been a big issue at that time. After forty years in 2010s in the era of stealthy fighters its a big issue.

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