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Chengdu reportedly achieves milestone in JF-17 Block-III development
February 22, 2018

Chengdu reportedly achieves milestone in JF-17 Block-III development

Reports from Chinese news sources indicate that Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) reached a major milestone in the development of the JF-17 Thunder Block-III – i.e. entering the “preliminary design stage.”

The Block-III is slated as the JF-17’s first major upgrade involving new electronic subsystems, including an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, a new integrated electronic warfare (EW) system, three-axis fly-by-wire (FBW) digital flight control system and helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S).

According to Sina News, CAIG has successfully determined an optimal configuration for the Block-III’s new subsystems, ensuring that it provides markedly improved capabilities.

Reported changes include modifications to the airframe for an AESA radar – potentially Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology’s (NRIET) KLJ-7A – new transmit/receive modules (TRM) (related to the EW system) embedded in the airframe and change in “orientation of the cockpit ventilation pipe.”

CAIG is carrying out the work on a relatively compressed schedule, potentially aligning with the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) plan to have the Block-III enter production in 2019 or 2020.

Currently, the PAF intends to procure 50 Block-IIIs.

Notes & Comments:

Unless another fighter is procured, it seems that the JF-17 Block-III will be the first fighter platform in the PAF to use an AESA radar. In contrast to legacy mechanically-steered radars, AESA radars use hundreds of individual TRMs, each serving as a radar in its own transmit frequency. With many frequencies in use simultaneously with each pulse, it is more difficult for enemy EW systems to jam an AESA radar.

The cost of an AESA radar comes in its increased weight, which can be a result of increased cooling as well as power requirements. It is unclear how CAIG will compensate for this in the Block-III, but with the twin-seat JF-17B, CAIG supplanted the hybrid flight control system (which used mechanical controls for bank and yaw) with a three-axis digital FBW system. This might have reduced weight and helped with creating space for additional fuel (to compensate for the area lost used by the second seat).

Though speculative, a route for the Block-III could be to mirror the approach taken by Mikoyan with the MiG-29KUB, MiG-29M2 and MiG-35 by using the twin-seat JF-17B as the direct basis for the Block-III. The Block-III’s single-seat variant could use the same airframe as the JF-17B, but with the rear-seat replaced with an extension of the fuselage’s spine. This approach could help reduce development lead-time.

  • Shershahsuri

    Mr.Bilal please also write about BVR missile of JFT block 3. Can it be the same SD 10 or PL-15?

    • Currently, I haven’t heard anything about a new BVRAAM.

  • Waqas Vicky

    Any info about payload

    • There’ll be a payload increase in the sense that it’ll have 9 hardpoints (for increased carriage), but I’m not sure about an increase in mass/weight at this time.

  • Shafiq Ahmed

    Any info about IRST on block 3 Mr Bilal???

    • Besides using the ASELPOD as an air-to-air IR sensor, IRST has – to my knowledge – is not on the Block-III.

  • Tauqeer Ahmad

    having 9 hard point with AESA etc shows that new ENGINE must be much more powerful , which engine it could be ? have any idea Mr Bilal ?

    • The option to change engines is there, but from what I am aware of, it isn’t slotted for the Block-III. That said, there have been reports of an FC-1 prototype already flying with the WS-13 (for some years now) and the Russians were reportedly developing a new RD-93 variant – i.e. RD-93MA – for some FC-1/JF-17 variant. Still, not clear if it’ll be in place for the Block-III. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bb7e4ff307351902f28c5729e8a40efca7633247282b098c988f69def2fe2893.jpg

      • Tauqeer Ahmad

        Thanks Mr Billal, i heard , read all these info as i am regularly following your articles and JF-17 in particular, i want to see this bird to be recognized by the world & china air force for its full potential and that is why first time i ask you something as i know without having a more powerful engine it can not reach the top. Thanks once again for response , appreciated

        • Anytime, sir.

        • Nasir

          The air frame is too small for putting in any meaningful upgrades to the power plant. As things stand, only marginal improvement to engine efficiency can be made. Also, it will come at the cost of weight reduction: reduced weapons, less fuel (necessitating AA refueling right after take off).

          Although there has been a lot of blind lust for ASEA radars, Pakistan does not need those for their stated mission objectives.

          Furthermore, electronic steering is done by phase shifting, which is less power consuming than mechanical steering of the phased array patches.

          I don’t know why people keep claiming that it will take more power to steer the beams electronically. It will be more complicated to fabricate, but it most definitely uses less power. Pakistan does not need to track a 100 independently steered beams. Even 10 independently steered beams is an over kill (based on the number of likely opposing formations). This can come down to 4 or five if there is data integration between a formation of JF-17s and any AWACS and/or ground based tracking systems.

          I would like for someone to comment on this requirement. I keep seeing it and it ticks me off every single time. Why are people trying to mushroom our own people?

          Perhaps Bilal will make an argument about likely threat scenarios for Pakistan and need to track several dozen targets from just one paltry JF17? What is the likelihood of that? Also, why are people confusing longer range, with ASEA function. Electrical beam steering does not require more power, increased range does. Increased range requires longer ranger (more expensive and heavier weapons). A plane with one heavy missile, which can see to infinity can still hope to hit only a single target. Where is the logic behind all these wants? Can anyone make a case?

          The only thing good with the JF-17 is that we can perhaps afford them in larger numbers, but this uppity, wishful, hunger akin to a girl dressing her little bike with streamers, bells, and a plastic card in spokes does not make it into a motorbike or a car.

          In my professional opinion, Pakistan’s only play is larger number of planes. Even the Block ones downgraded by removing the token fly-by-wire planes will make our defense strong.

          Keep in mind NK, they have a couple of hundred planes which are made of wood, and they are probably the ones which will probably save their bacon.

          I made a scull in my garage with carbon fiber about 8 years ago. Why can not Pakistan use composites, after all it is a whole country? They know about composite materials. Why do we not think?

          Nasir

      • TZK

        Unfortunately my Russian is not very good but this does illustrate the barriers posed by language although Google translate does help. I have noticed that in the West Govt departments have a centralised translation service and there are private companies that translate technical manuals. I expect there is nothing like this in Pak but in these days of internet a short email with the scanned document to Pak Embassy in Moscow should do the trick.

        • My Google Translate App said: //10) the creation of a new installation (engine RD-93MA and KSA-54M): the completion date is 2019. Object of application aircraft FC-1 (China)//

  • sami shahid

    Awesome… Bilal do you have any idea if the air to air refuelling probe would be installed on JF-17 B & block 3 as the air frame of Both these blocks is changed. ?

    • I’d be surprised if they omit the AAR probe in either one, esp. Block-III.

  • Jigsaw

    As of now everything seems to be falling in place except a newer power plant for this new block. Unless they can find a new/stronger engine to power it, the block 3 will most likely remain underpowered and under-utilised. That seems to be the trend with iterations of 4th gen jets, i.e. F-16, f-18, and Gripen NG in particular – with newer blocks you need a new engine!

  • Steve

    This fighter is Pakistan’s air main defence asset for the next 2-3 decades. A lot of things are unclear ATM and it’s fair to say we just have to trust PAF to do the right thing WRT quality. Unclear about Engine with FADEC, OBOGS, pressure suits, HMD, HOBS, IRST which may not happen anyway, etc. No point in accepting 2nd best as we are facing a dangerous enemy and all assets have to be high quality even if less in number initially. We can buy more over the years but poor quality is difficult to fix. There may be mischief on the western border as well unfortunately as our foreign policy has been in autopilot for years with Ganja and co.

    • Jigsaw

      Lol @ autopilot. But true. I think a better calculation would be that some of the 4.5th gen elements may not happen rightaway but eventually will. The major reason for this is that all these elements are either already deployed by China (the major supplier for JF-17) or Turkey (secondary), or in development by these suppliers – eventually they will make their way to other platforms. I think if we look at how J-20 has transpired, it brings out both the weaknesses and strengths of the Chinese aviation over this past decade or so. What they’re struggling head to toe with is getting a decent or even a partially decent modern engine in place for their 4.5 and 5th gen jets. That includes Russia too that China is mostly reverse engineering from. I believe IRST, 5th gen WVR missile, HOBS, HMD, composites, AESA, and even long range missiles such as meteor will eventually (if not rightaway) be seen on JF-17 in few years time – because PAF at the moment is developing JF-17 block 3 as their sole answer to Rafale (whether it will do or not is another debate) – if something changes in future they’ll buy it – but currently that’s the only way forward. And they’re trying to create a Gripen NG here. What i actually see as a major setback to JF-17 programme in coming years (unless adhered to) will be lack of a competitive engine to bring out its true potential. This will also be the major factor in sales for block 3 – which are expected to take off with its induction.

      I seriously hope Russia or China can make a breakthrough in engine technology in next few years. Without that, no matter what other goodies make it to JF-17, it will never be able to supercruise, extend range, payload, and lethality, and ultimately translate all that into good sales.

      • TZK

        Block 1 was a good replacement for J-7 and they should have left it at that. J10B was offered to Pak and would have been a good replacement for F16 but they wanted to develop JF17 block 3. Lets hope they get a decent power plant to match F16 and J10B for block 3.

  • Jmalnasir

    Thanks Bilal
    what is the contribution of PAC in design of Block-III .

  • SP

    Block 3 is long awaited and we expect to see big improvements. A more powerful engine along with more use of composites and IRSTwould be welcome.

    The foreign policy of Pakistan is run by the army so its wrong to take credit when things go well and to blame it on civilians when things go wrong. The army should man up and take the responsibility of its failure and for causing irrepairable economic losses to the country by fighting US wars and creating instability in the country.

    • Steve

      There is a grain of truth in what you are saying but it’s also fair to say that the army did not start any of the wars. We were forced to join US wars by threats and coercion. Furthermore the army did not stop the appointment of a competent foreign minister for years. It was the government. These days all the energy of the ruling polical party and other parties for that matter is being spent on saving their leaders from censure. Foreign policy comes way down the list of priorities.

      • SP

        All the wars of 1965, 1971, 1980’s and recent WOT have taken place under army dictatorship. Only credible threats have been non acceptance of the regime. Coercion has been support for the regime and allowing corruption in the aid given to financially benefit senior officials. The blowback has been faced by civilian governments and the general population.

        There is no point in having a foreign minister or defence minister if the army COAS wants these roles for himself.

        The reason the party in power is busy with politics is due to army supporting dharnas, mob rule, paid tv channels, and subordinate judiciary in order to cause political instability and to undermine civilian rule, which the army has done since the inception of Pakistan. Things have to change. The army is not serving the interest of Pakistan but its enemies.

        • TZK

          The PA has always been pro-USA and at the time of cold war that was probably the only option given a belligerent neighbour that was allied to USSR. It was the civilian governments that nurtured the relationship with China which is bearing fruit.

          • Steve

            It’s not a simple civilian vs army debate but the right balance needs to be achieved depending on individual counties and conditions. Western democracy is corrupt as hell and controlled by major corporations, MIC, and lobbyists etc. Just look at how congressmen are literally bought and become puppets of vested controlling interests.

          • TZK

            Internal military v civilian arguments are damaging but it appears that they surface whenever something goes wrong and finger pointing starts. Irrespective of which side has the power they should be putting the national interest first. In the west despite all the problems that you have identified they have developed a workable system of checks and balances that always ensures that the national interest is served.

          • Steve

            Depends on how you define national interest. For example USA Middle East policy is arguably not in their national interest but they do it anyway, because of factors discussed before.

          • SP

            US foreign policy is controlled by Jews who ultimately control the US. The president is just a figurehead.

            US did what it needed to do in its national interest to get where it did yoday and now it can have rhe luxury if making some mistakes.

            Some long as the dollar hegemony exists US can afford the luxury of making mistakes at other countries expense.

          • TZK

            The pro-Israel lobby have a disproportionately loud voice in USA and that is due to both historical and geopolitical reasons. There is also now a strong voice from nationalists or the ultra right wing of US politics who have voted the current administration in. Their world view does not see Israel in the same light as others in USA. It will be interesting to see how the current administration squares that circle as they say.

          • SP

            Pro-Israel lobby is powerful because they control the businesses, media and finance. If the nationalists and ultra right wing that Trump has awaken do not hold the same view of Israel then that could be the reason that Trump is unacceptable and Trump is trying hard to appease the US deep state by trying to create unrest in Iran, wants to move embassy to Jerusalem and is being publicly tough on Pakistan. I don’t think the pro-Israel lobby will let go of its grip on US foreign policy.

          • TZK

            Steve Bannon of Breitbart and formerly White House Chief Strategist has left the administration in acrimonious circumstances blaming a faction in the administration that happens to be also pro-Israeli (J Kushner, who also happens to be son in law of DT) for his removal. SB appeals to the ultra right wing and had helped in the election of DT.

          • TZK

            Most situations are complex and will mean balancing competing interests and that is why there are parliaments where these can be resolved. In relation to ME I think you will find USA does exactly what is in its national interest although to a casual observer it may not appear to be.

        • Steve

          India is hardly an unbiased benign observer spreading love and kindness all round. They have major vested interest in seeing Pakistani army weakened as that is the only institution that stands in their way of total hegemony in the subcontinent. Just look how smaller countries around India have been bullied historically. They still occupy our land in Kashmir. Anybody who thinks we don’t face an existential threat after vivisection is either living on another planet or disingenuous. Corrupt politicians won’t mind selling our country down the river for favours and cash. Please spare us your propaganda about Pakistan army, and distortion of the facts about WOT etc. Civilians in power usually means bankruptcy for the country which we are still struggling with until we develop institutional controls over these people. I’m not advocating martial law but some serious control.

          • SP

            Please dont repeat the mantra that it is Pakistan Army that is holding the country together otherwise it will fall apart and fail to exist. This is an innocent to the citizens of Pakistan. Army is important but as a unifying force and not as a force that seeks to polarise society by trying to undermine other state institutions and the will of the population. Playing the role of kingmaker and using media, parties and mobs to undermine elected governments and spending billions at self projection is not the role of the army.

            Corruption is not limited to politicians but also exists within the judiciary and armed forces. Army instead of using its power for positive development of the country as been been using it for its own selfish ends at the detriment of the state. If there is corruption then army should help capture the responsible elements instead of entering into partnership with them.

            No elected leader has served his full term in the last 70 years and military dictators have caused more harm to the country then any elected civilian has ever done.

          • Steve

            I respect your passion but I think this is a discussion about the politics of Pakistan and probably appropriate for another forum.

          • SP

            I have no interest in politics but the national interest is served by unity, everyone staying within their constitutional domain, shared vision, internal stability and economic growth. Anything that creates internal instability or keeps the population in poverty is not in the national interest. There are many facets of national security and a strong military is just one part of it.

          • amar

            Hi steve!
            Indian politicians might resort to the rhetoric of Kashmir, however I believe the solution to the Kashmir problem lies in accepting the LOC as the international border and getting both the parties to accept that PoK belongs to Pakistan just like J&K belongs to India. Whatever evil or threatful a country you have portrayed India as, the reality is, India is by far one of the most stable democracy in the region. Of course it has corruption–but much less than your country(as various international reports indicate!). It is this political stability that has fueled the economic growth for more than 2.5 decades now and would continue to do so for a lot many more decades to come.
            Of course, Indian institutions are not the best–far from it–but they certainly perform and deliver much better than their counterparts in Pakistan. We can compare across the board.
            For one thing, India is far more transparent than Pakistan. All the failures are not only documented but published in the main public discourse. When was the last time you heard any Pakistani parliamentarian debating about the failures of certain military program or the funding that military program recieved in pakistani parliament? I dont think Pakistani military programs are ever audited or scrutinized by civilian establishments–something that is a norm here in India.
            The reason why I am saying all this, is because, itz always better to fix your home first before pointing fingers at others– especially when that other happened to have consistently outperformed you for more than 2.5 decades.

          • Steve

            My post was about India’s intentions wrt Pakistan army which are accurate. Whatever you are saying is irrelevant to the discussion. Why do Indians posters always respond to any mention of India with a knee jerk reaction of a long list of praise about their 3rd world country rather than following the argument.

          • amar

            If that’s what you think steve! Read the works of people like adrian levy(deception), or ayesha etc to know about how Pakistani military establishment is omnipresent entity. The sources I’ve quoted aren’t Indians so you can trust them. These writers have spent their life researching on topics like this. So read them with unbiased mind, you’ll quickly understand how the military establishment has controlled your nation even if civilian govt was in power.
            As for the third world remark–sure India is a 3rd world country–one that has consistently outperformed yours for past 2.5 decades with economic differential growing glaringly in India’s favour.

          • Steve

            When I require advice from an Indian about Pakistan’s army’s role in the subcontinent I will ask for it. The boasting from your side will never end. It’s almost a national character and very irritating to Western people, but you will never understand that.

    • Jigsaw

      I believe the civilians should take the words of current COAS seriously and start working on it to not give military chances. Do not create opportunities for military intervention.

    • Jigsaw

      Obviously no one had a gun to Sharif’s head to not appoint a foreign minister for Pakistan in 4 years and basically single handedly destroy the foreign relations and policy of the country! Why US – EU- far east – Russia have not been engaged by the pathetic PMLN gov on war footing when you know you are fighting a war!!!

      There is a potato head genius sitting throwing tantrums of mujhay kyun nikala day and night!

      When such mess is created, alternative forces step in. No one wants military intervention including military itself, but will the civilians please stand up and take charge instead of throwing blames!

      • SP

        PM Sharif was personally dealing with diplomacy, (which could be the reason that he was dismissed as the GHQ viewed it as its domain) and relations were good with China which launched massive infrastructure development in the country as it had confidence in him, relations with Iran were good despite the COAS trying to stir up controversy during the visit to Pakistan of President Rouhani, relations with Russia and good and improving. If relations are bad with the US then I am happy as we have seen a quantum reduction in drone strikes and there has been no raid into Pakistan when the military leadership was caught napping or was complicit in the attack inside the country and allowed the attacking force to escape. Relations with turkey are good and turkey has helped Punjab in many ways as it has confidence in the Sharifs and Turkey has purchased Super Mushshaq. As soon as Sharif is dismissed Trump starts applying pressure and wants the boys in GHQ to know who is the boss and who is paying them the money.

        The potato geniuses sitting inside GHQ that has been plotting dharnas and conspiracies against democracy if they had been doing their job then the country wouldn’t be constantly on the brink of breaking up and there would be internal harmony and cohesion within Pakistan.

        Mess is not created and the vacuum is filled by alternative forces, but mess is engineered so that alternative forces can step in.

        If Army is so efficient in running the country then despite running it for over 3 decades they haven’t fixed the country. If they had fixed the country then they wouldn’t need to keeping trying to come back in again. If the army failed in over 3 decades of direct governance then they will fail again, and it is better to let elected PM’s complete their terms.

        • Jigsaw

          The problem is you seem to be firing in only one direction while giving (or least trying to give) a clean chit to the one who did not manage to get it in case of panama verdict. I am trying to put a simple question: Military is not meant to rule country and neither do they want , now at least apparently, but will the civilians please prove they can do it?

          So far – we know they are a corrupt lot and from worst of the worst.

          Burying your head into sand won’t do here.

          Jialaism will also not do.

          You have two families whose total accumulated black wealth is more than entire loan of Pakistan. Try to figure out how that happens from a Lohaar dukaan and a cinema runner.

          As for “try to let them complete their term”. Take your case to SC. You claim to be a democrat, for and from democracy, and yet can’t stand rule of law – a decision made after 1 year of investigation by SC – not military. That is your whole case you’re putting here.

          • SP

            I am not giving a clean chit to anyone but I am looking at matters impartially without any bias and false pride.

            Panama? How many people have offshore accounts and companies? Why only one family targetted? And only targetted when it has fallen out with the establushment? Why nothing wrong established despite massive effort of JIT? Why did SC yesterday in Hudaibya case state that the case has not been proven and has been dismissed and it was kept pending only for victimisation purposes? Why is the CJP quoted as saying today that he will stop Orange Line unless hospitals are improved? Is it a personal vandetta for him? Why he has failed to improve the courts which should be his first piriority. Why is he trying to become a politician and populist? Why is he not opening cases of DHA Valley corruption?

            Democracy needs to be given a chance so that it can cleanse politics of the bad apples. Politicians need to be looking at improving the lives of the electorate instead of looking over their shoulders or to GHQ for approval. You cannot expect politicians to become angels overnight they need to get space and to make mistakes and to learn from their mistakes so that they can improve.

            If someone has done any wrong catch them there and then and make an example out of them but dont let them get away with murder and then 10 or 20 years later start throwing mud.

            Politicians aren’t the only ones who have wealth many armed forces have wealth beyond their means but you will never hear about it. Gen. Ayub’s family is very rich to this day, as is Zias and Musharrafs. There are generals who had bicycles but went on to become billionaires.

            We cannot expect to progress when we lie and cannot tell the truth to our own population.

  • Augustine

    ◾Until Pakistanis learn to be satisfied with what they produce, invest time, money to constantly improve it, they will remain students in America’s classroom of punishment by arms embargo, economic sanctions◾Everytime I see Pakistanis thirsty for more F-16, desire J-10, I shake my head in pity. Trump started boxing Pakistan yesterday, accusing Pakistan of terrorism, cutting financial aid in anger, planning a bigger hammer◾JF-17 is mach 1.6 speed, F-35 stealth is same 1.6, fastest speed wont win you air battle this modern age. J-10 is not special, F-16 is average unless its Viper with AESA◾Trump is not your friend, America is forever unpredictable. Improve JF-17 to match Gripen E, start Pakistani-China 5th gen stealth jet “project Azm”, build it to match J-20 stealth◾Until Pakistanis learn to love and improve what they own, they will always fall victim of American arms embargo and economic sanctions anytime that hammer is used against them

  • TZK

    PAF is a victim of shifting geopolitics but if they do procure say J-31 at some point will that not require a similar customization program. I have noticed some here have argued that PAF should have started looking east about 10 years ago and I now see the wisdom in this argument.

    • Jigsaw

      Yes sure but J-31 will be worth all that attention as well as need of the hour, considering it could be the first 5th gen fighter to be inducted by PAF – they ought to run feasibility and customization studies on it, whether it means sourcing sub-elements from China or from some other countries as in case of JF-17.

      PAF has been looking east for many decades now. Use of Chinese systems since long is clear example of it, however it was never feasible to have only “eastern” (chinese for most part) systems in the inventory for many reasons. What they needed was a domestic setup which can set goals for long term technology absorption thru collaboration and joint ventures while delivering on short term projects such as JF-17 built specifically around own reqs from the start. PAF is well on its way to achieving that. Navy and army had partial success and need to step up. That should fix the challenge of shifting geopolitics.

      • TZK

        When I said look east I did not mean trying to procure more new or used F16’s but acquire new Russian or Chines planes to replace existing USA derived equipment. The army have been replacing USA derived equipment gradually but PAF has been very slow. In the long term there is no guarantee of spare parts and interests of both Pak and USA diverge and things will only get worse for PAF if they do not make the change.

        • Jigsaw

          Reg acquiring new Russian/Chinese jets: Wouldn’t that be – again – putting all eggs in one basket? That’s the sole reason for JF-17 existing in first place.

          Now it’s true that US is expected to impose military sanctions on Pakistan in coming days as White house has indicated. F-16 spares and further deliveries of US military equipment (such as AH1Z) may be halted midway. But PAF will not replace anything that already exits in fleet on mere deterioration of ties with US. They have paid for those F-16s (one way or another) and they make up a large part of the fleet. They may cannibalise some F-16s to keep other flying or acquire spares thru other channels but those F-16s will see their life cycles completed.

          I don’t – we don’t know if PAF will acquire any Russian fighter jets. Chinese planes yes but Russian is a question mark.

          Hopefully in Project azm and JF-17 they have their answers.

  • Jigsaw

    Hi Bilal. Sorry A little off topic. Do you have any info on this Harba cruise missile inducted by PN? A while ago they have done a test of it…

    https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/headline/video-pakistan-navy-test-fires-new-harba-cruise-missile-from-pns-himmat/

  • Violet

    The first rafale will land on Indian shores by early 2019 and not some 2-3 years later as you mentioned. The complete delivery of all 36 rafales will be completed by early 2021. There is the possibility of a follow-on order of 36 more rafale which is expected to be signed during the upcoming visit of french president Emmanuel Macron to India. If so then IAF could very well take its inventory of rafales to 72. Moreover India in the coming months is likely to take a decision on either the F-16 Block 70 or the Gripen-NG, (most likely Gripen-NG as the IAF is in favour of it) of which some 200 will be built in India.
    On the other hand, a lot of features onboard JF-17 block III are hearsay at this point and could be placeholders. Wait until a fully mature operational platform is actually operated by any airforce to know the specs for sure. Also there is a huge question mark regarding PAF’s willingness and its ability as to what extent the proposed features will be included in the block III. Of course it will be better than block II but then block II hardly compares well with any modern 4th gen jet in terms of avionics, range or payload. If let’s say all or even most of the features are eventually included in the block III (that’s a big if) as mentioned, even then it could be somewhat be at par with other light single engine fighters like Gripen. Rafale by all means is in a class of its own. Even jets like eurofighter typhoon (tranche 1 and 2) seem to be lacking in operational capability compared to rafale as has been shown in other countries’ fighter competitions, so let alone JF-17 block III. Also the power plant in the newer block III remains a huge concern.

    • Shafiq Ahmed

      What you are saying is right but if a decent fighter like jf 17 block 3 with a good pilot is deployed in number say two against one IAF Rafale then things will be interesting.Men behind the machines matter a great deal since a PAF pilot flying a F 16 locked a much superior EU typhoon in a drill.IAf knows what PAF is capable of.Besides PAF will probably be the first to land a FGF either J 31 or TFX
      and is right in its approach not to go for a 4 0r 4.5 gen Fighter

    • TZK

      The Rafale and the Gripen are not specialist dog fighters like say the F16 or the Eurofighter Typhoon. Assuming that both Gripen and Rafale have superior technology and they can take out both F16 and JF-17 before they engage in a dog fight they will still have to evade SAM to do any damage. In the absence of any comparable jet I think Pak should build up its SAM coverage.

  • Steve

    Jigsaw I think the issue is quantity as a stopgap before gen 5 is procured/built and deployed, which realistically is 10+ years away. We need at least a few more squadrons of established gen 4-4.5 to effectively compete with India, and by that I mean to deter an adventure. The number of AWAC’s being bought also point to that number of fighters. JF-17 is the mainstay but certainly not our high end fighter. We already have 70+ F-16. It makes all sort of sense to acquire more despite the criticism and sneering by armchair warriors like us. That the political situation is bad does not mean F-16 is the wrong fighter. No inexpensive alternate is available to quickly make up numbers. J-10, refurbished Mirage 2000, Migs blah blah are all poor choices for a number of reasons. That’s why so much emphasis on Block III. Wish the PAF success in getting high end newer Chinese missiles to use with this platform, which they badly need.

    • Jigsaw

      HI –
      Agreed, though I don’t think induction of a 5th gen fighter is 10+ years away in PAF – at least we could see J-31 getting inducted before that. Other projects may follow. PAF needs to retire its mirages and F-7s, around 200 fighters in 5 years. I believe block 3 will step in to fill that gap – but we wont be getting any more F-16s and no block 60 at least. US may not provide support/spares for these planes as all signs point to that. When block 3 comes in, it will be the most advanced fighter in PAF fleet but of course it will not cater for high end threats such as Rafale. So i believe a 5th gen fighter could be introduced soon enough.

      Rest assured, the primary threat PAF faces is flying with 50% obsolete jets also. Currently there is no jet posing sufficient threat to PAF. When Rafale arrives in IAF, it will be a different story. If F-16s or Gripens are chosen, it will also complicate equation for PAF – hence some responses will be seen. If Tejas is sought, PAF will not bother staying with JF-17 block 3.

      I think post 2025 a PAF comprising of upgraded Block 1/2, and 3 JF-17s, F-16s, and J-31s will be OK until Project azm and / or turkish fighter is realized in PAF.

      • Steve

        Good analysis. Let’s hope to see some positive signs soon. The status of J-31 will be clarified in a year or two I hope. Agree about F-16 as the next few years’ relations are hard with USA. Unfortunately our enemies’ and USA’s interests have coincided in Afghanistan. We use a lot of US equipment and spares can be an issue. Maybe with a new government this year we could see some deft political/diplomatic initiative. We need a settlement in that country for everyone’s sake.

        • Jigsaw

          The US is damaging itself the most by electing and empowering such a deranged person as president. It’s a fine country and always has been close to Pakistan – helpful and a good ally. 70% people despite him becoming POTUS disapprove of him. It seems that the country of US has been hijacked by specific agenda minded lobbyists – he doesn’t seem to reflect the opinion of general public , with everyday some citizen taking it out on what kind of damage this person is doing. CNN and american media is full of it. Obviously there are extremely challenging tasks that need to be completed before his 4 years are up. So Pakistan and world can see more of such geopolitically destabalizing moves in coming days. They needed a person like him it seems. Whatever damage was remaining to be done, has been assured by PMLN’s 5 year tenure by not appointing a foreign minister and deliberately destroying pakistan foreign policy on the front foot.

          I’m not sure or hopeful of US but hopefully Pakistan will recover from this mess.

          • SP

            Trump is the sort of person that Pakistan needs to give it a dose of reality, and to wake it out of fools paradise. Trump is a blessing in disguise for Pakistan. Whoever the US President is the deep state policy for Pakistan will remain the same.

          • TZK

            A USA commentator said of the withholding of aid to Pak ‘ This is plain stupid, the money is peanuts and it would cost us twice as much to stay in Afghanistan without them. They will learn to live without it and the next time we need them they will not be so accommodating.’ Two things strike me here, firstly developing dependency and secondly cost benefit analysis. Pak has been and still is a bargain for USA interests. Pak needs to get out of the dependency cycle.

          • SP

            So basically Pakistan Army is a Blackwater for them, at half the price to be used and discarded at will. Pakistan state is a colony for them. The real target of Afghan war seems to be Pakistan, whilst India is being encouraged to increase economic growth to rival China, we are stuck with low economic growth, power blackouts, insufficient jobs creation for the growing population, blowback of wars, psychological warfare by our own media against us and internal instability. One day we will realise that like the previous Afghan war, what we gained from it was offset many times by what we lost from it in terms of economic cost to the nation. The sooner the country develops an independent policy for the country that puts its long term interest and that of its population first, rather than to sell the country and the future of the population just to secure approval for the regimes which happened to have acquired power conveniently just before the wars by strange coincidence and were struggling for legitimacy.

          • Jigsaw

            It won’t make a difference as long as you have the corrupt Sharif mafia family ruling or interfering in this country.

          • TZK

            A USA commentator said of the withholding of aid to Pak ‘ This is plain stupid, the money is peanuts and it would cost us twice as much to stay in Afghanistan without them. They will learn to live without it and the next time we need them they will not be so accommodating.’ Two things strike me here, firstly developing dependency and secondly cost benefit analysis. Pak has been and still is a bargain for USA interests. Pak needs to get out of the dependency cycle.

          • Jigsaw

            You seem to be suggesting this: It doesn’t matter how much money laundering we do, how much loans we take and transfer them into black wealth, buy overseas properties with that money, fly money in cash out of country, carry out massacres, destroy the economy, let us rule forever and don’t tell us we are corrupt, we have panama’s, don’t investigate us, don’t take us to courts, don’t ask us questions.

            And you want to be democratic. You probably don’t know ABC of democracy if that is what it is about.

            The courts have passed a judgement here – what does it have to do with military??? At least put a valid logical excuse here. It’s 10 years of civilian rule already – wake up.

          • SP

            Whoever is commiting these crimes please do catch them. But don’t pretend that it is just limited to the politicians. For your information the country has been ruled for the longest by the Army but it failed to reform the system.as a broken system that allows it to upsurp power better serves its interest.

            We had TUQ imported from Canada to undermine the last government, then we had Dharnas 1 and 2 and Dharna 3 in the form of JIT run by the ISI. Now we had army officers giving out cash bonuses to the Faizabad protesters. The army is trying to undermine democracy but in the process it is undermining the state itself.

          • Jigsaw

            They have been caught and caught red handed. Those who want to remain blind can choose to.

            Here is a better answer to your delusions about the Sharif family you consider the messiahs of this nation.

            https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=VP-LB23T8d4

          • SP

            I don’t consider them the messiah but the best one out the available lot. We had Zardari who was imposed on the nation by Gen. Kiani in connivance with the US, but the electorate finished him off which no general could as he was allowed to complete his term. NS if he only got rid of the power blackouts in 5 years then he deserves credit even if he had some failings. Next 6 years are critical for Pakistan and internal political stability is a must.

            You state NS was caught red handed but with what? The JIT could not find anything against him despite the media trial. Nothing wrong with Panama, or the London flats, or this fathers business in Pakistan or abroad. The hand picked SC bench that tried him could only come up with him being entitled to income from his son’s business that he never received, and classed the unreceived income as an potential asset and stated he did not declare the “asset”, whereas IK was allowed to get away with his undeclared offshore company that had cash balances but that was not apparently an “asset”.

            I wonder how many people can dig up the money trail of the parents assets from more than 40 years ago, I doubt even JIT members or the judges could do that but they expected NS to do that.

            A flimsy excuse was made to remove an elected PM of more than 200 million people without due process of the law by a Kangroo court.

            Another bench of SC recently admitted that cases were deliberately kept hanging to victimise NS at a time of the establishments choosing.

            Justice cannot be selective and has to apply the same yardstick to everybody.

          • Zohaib

            i wonder why you defending NS so badly . this man is proven guilty. With the famous phrase of Maryam Meri london to kiya Pakistan mein he koi property nahin hai .. na meri aur na merey khandan ki .. to accepting they own the property . anybody can see they were just trying to manipulate the minds of people for their own bloody sh**t . and still i did not heard an apology from maryam for london apartments. This forum is about JF-17 so let it be for defence discussion.

          • TZK

            I hate to say it but from what you have written describes a dysfunctional nation or a failed state as our neighbours would describe us. Due to political instability there is no long term planning and democracy itself is often questioned by those opposed to it, arguing how can illiterate masses decide elections. But through out Pak’s history I am not aware of any great deeds by military run Govts, such as improvements in education, health or technological development. Suppose we have a military run govt now that kowtows to USA and in return gets weapons. 3 years from now Democrats come to power and do not want to deal with dictatorships and slap on arms sanctions. All those weapons are now worthless as you cannot get spare parts and Pak is now even more dependent on USA.

  • Saptarshi Dasgupta

    PAF is blessed that it did not have much options. JF-17 BLOCK 3 is a way to go. IAF sadly is not going for TEJAS MK2 after ordering 40 Tejas MK1 and 83 MK1A with AESA. Rafale, Sukhois and probably F-16V Block 70/Gripen E deals will kill the Tejas MK2.IAF has decided to cap the purchase of Tejas to 123 when the actual projection was for 220 Airforce models and 50 Navy models. While the Navy is looking at Rafale/Super Hornet or probably F-35 in future , AIr Force is investing in multiple assets. Even though Indian Air Force and Navy can boast of formidable combinations , PAF can boast that it trusted JF-17 instead of american jets. JF-17 is a success no doubt. Block 3 versions can even beat F-16 bLOCK 52 IF I AM NOT MISTAKEN

  • hamzah zaman

    Hi im new here. Just was wonderingwhat are the main differences with the Jf-17 and Fc-1. I believe it’s avionics but are there any other noticble differences.

  • Hammad Hassan

    Bilal what are the option for engine as it is a primary driver of quality??
    Can you do a separate piece on it…I would like a discussion on chinese russian and potentially available (no strings attached possibly with ToT) western design…..

  • Muhammad Usman

    It is mentioned that the Block 3 would be the first platform to host the AESA radar, how come? What about F-16 Block 50/52s?

    • The JF-17 Block-III would be the first PAF fighter with an AESA radar (unless another plane is suddenly inducted). The PAF’s F-16 Block-52 is equipped with the AN/APG-68v9, a mechanically-scanned array pulse-Doppler radar.

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