On 12 March 2019, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) announced that it test fired a new domestically developed precision-guided munition from a JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter.
“The successful trial has provided JF-17 Thunder a very potent and assured day and night capability to engage variety of targets with pinpoint accuracy,” the PAF stated through an official press release.
The PAF did not provide information about the munition’s range or capabilities, except releasing a video of the munition launching and hitting its target.
Interestingly, the object in the video was obscured with a black box, indicating that the PAF did not want to disclose the design or characteristics of the new munition.
Had the new munition been a Range Extension Kit (REK)-equipped Mark-80-series general purpose bomb (GPB), there would have been little reason to obscure its new test video.
The REK had already been revealed to the public, with the PAF even showing a video of it launching from the JF-17 during the 2018 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) in November of last year.
Moreover, the REK’s marketing company, Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS), also revealed the technical specifications and capabilities of the REK since at least IDEAS 2016.
The REK is analogous to the Joint Direct Attack Munition Extended Range (JDAM-ER). The kit extends the range of the GPB while improving its accuracy with an INS/GPS system. It has a maximum range of 100 km and an accuracy of within 10 m CEP. Like the JDAM-ER, the REK is meant to be a low-cost SOW solution.
The REK and the C-802 anti-ship missiles (AShM) are the JF-17’s main stand-off weapons (SOW) thus far, but this recent test may suggest that there is a third SOW joining the JF-17’s armament inventory.
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