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Pakistan inaugurates new fighter squadron – No. 28 “Phoenix”

On 28 February, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) inaugurated its sixth JF-17 fighter unit through a newly-raised multi-role fighter squadron, the No. 28 “Phoenix”. The state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reports that the No. 28 is stationed at PAF Samungli in Quetta, Baluchistan.

According to the APP, the PAF Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman outlined that the No. 28 will play a key role in shoring-up Pakistan’s security interests along its western borders (which are shared with Iran and Afghanistan).

Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) rolled-out its 50th Block-II JF-17 at the end of 2017 – i.e. giving the PAF 100 JF-17s split equally between the Block-I and Block-II. The PAF will reportedly order another 12 JF-17 Block-IIs in 2018. This follow-on order will keep PAC’s production line warm ahead of the Block-III.

Notes & Comments:

With the No. 28 Squadron in place, the PAF has successfully distributed the JF-17 to each of its operational environments: South (No. 2), Central (No. 14, No. 16), North (No. 26) and West (No. 28). The sixth unit is the Combat Commanders School (CCS), stationed in Sargodha Air Base (Central).

Interestingly, a purported photo of a No. 28 JF-17 shows that it is equipped with an in-flight refueling (IFR) probe. While this is not surprising, considering that the Block-II incorporates IFR (starting with the 24 or 26th production aircraft), older – i.e. Block-I – units are also flying newer IFR-capable JF-17s. For example, the No. 16 Squadron – which launched with the Block-I – has JF-17 Block-IIs with IFR (photo). It suggests that several of the PAF’s JF-17 squadrons are, in fact, mixed capability units (e.g. with and without IFR).

If No. 2 is also IFR capable (plausible considering that it operates in Pakistan’s maritime environment), it would mean splitting the four IL-78 tanker-transport aircraft across at least three regions. With the IL-78s also serving as transports, it will be worth observing if this arrangement stretches the IL-78 fleet too thin.

In addition, it is interesting that the PAF opted to raise an entirely new squadron. Before this, the pattern (i.e. No. 2 and No. 14) indicated that the PAF was converting F-7P units to the JF-17. Thus, the intuitive next unit to convert would have been the No. 18 Squadron, which serves as the F-7P’s operational conversion unit (OCU). However, the No. 18 is currently in place, while its home – M.M Alam Air Base – was joined by a new lead-in-fighter-trainer (LIFT), ‘Shooter Squadron’.

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  • by Jigsaw
    Posted March 1, 2018 2:50 am 0Likes

    Couple of interesting statement made by ACM.

    “A lot of Block III improvements have already been used to upgrade Block I/2s.”

    “We don’t want to make any mistakes with this aircraft so we instigated a one-and-a-half year delay to the Block III programme,”

  • by Amazing Pakistan
    Posted March 1, 2018 3:28 am 0Likes

    Will PAF replace No.18 squadron with the new 100th to 112th JF-17 Block 2 until block 3 arrives and than PAF will add 6 block 3s to complete 18 fighter jets in No.18 squadron ?

  • by Bilal Khan
    Posted March 1, 2018 3:52 am 0Likes

    No info on what happens to No. 18 or where the 12 additional Block-IIs will go.

  • by Paul
    Posted March 1, 2018 5:18 am 0Likes

    What happened to the 2 crashed jf17’s?are they going to be replaced with these extra block 2’s?

  • by Ronny Abbasi
    Posted March 1, 2018 5:32 am 0Likes

    One is at the bottom of the Arabian Sea while the other was incinerated when it crashed.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 1, 2018 5:38 am 0Likes

    I agree, Omear. Why Phoenix? Would have been desirable to see it named something that reflected local history and language. I’m not keen on the JF-17 Thunder name either.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted March 1, 2018 7:49 am 0Likes

    It’s called thunder because it can fly and attack enemy targets during night time even if it’s raining.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted March 1, 2018 7:50 am 0Likes

    Good to know… need to deploy some JF-17’s in Gwadar or Turbat as well. Not sure if they are already there.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 1, 2018 8:04 am 0Likes

    Isn’t the Urdu word for thunder gharj….. ? That’s my point, not the meaning the word coveys but rather the choice of language. For me it would be more meaningful to use local language.

  • by sami shahid
    Posted March 1, 2018 11:52 am 0Likes

    If language is that important then we should offer our prayers in Urdu not Arabic ? How’s that ?

  • by Zain YG
    Posted March 1, 2018 12:31 pm 0Likes

    Maybe because, English is lingua franca, in many countries, and the pakistani govt, and strategists, planned it beforehand, for the fighter to be sold outside pakistan, and therefore for marketing puposes, a familiar language, and a fancy term works well.
    I mean guys, c’mon, not that hard figuring this one out. peace!

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 1, 2018 12:35 pm 0Likes

    JF-17 is not my daily namaz. Come on Sami!

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 1, 2018 12:45 pm 0Likes

    Of course, there is nothing wrong with name Thunder in itself. I would have preferred to have seen a local language name for PAF’s own fighter. Iranian Saegheh, Israeli Lavi, Indian Tejas.

    I do not think a non-English language name would have impacted any potential sales. It would be the last thing on any air force’s criteria for selection of a defence asset.

  • by Joseph
    Posted March 1, 2018 1:14 pm 0Likes

    According to JF-17 wikipedia, JF-17 does have a Urdu name, which is “جے ایف-١٧ گرج”, google translate says it means “JF-17 Grains”. I have no idea whether that is right or not.

  • by Quraishi
    Posted March 1, 2018 2:23 pm 0Likes

    Welcome to the delay club 😂
    Hope it done occurs anymore orelse India’s would be laughing

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 1, 2018 3:37 pm 0Likes

    گرج‎ (gharj) is the Urdu translation of Thunder. If you Google Translate “thunder” to Urdu you will see گرج‎.

  • by Joseph
    Posted March 1, 2018 4:14 pm 0Likes

    Thanks, I guess google translate still has a long way to go.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 1, 2018 4:26 pm 0Likes

    It doesn’t yet work too well with English/Urdu.

  • by Zain YG
    Posted March 1, 2018 6:12 pm 0Likes

    I’m a salesman, I don’t sell fighter jets, but I am gonna assume that, selling JF 17 Thunder would be way easier than gharj.

    Also, Pakistan has no good reputation in the world right now, not that it cannot have, but media narrative is like that, we are not israelis who are unconditionally supported and given billions upon billions and praised.

    Or Indians, that have a huge economy because of a very huge population, and good bollywood propaganda.

    Or Iranians, that have rich history, and renowned for their historical culture and products, to even have a foothold like that, neither our engineers have any landmark products like the Germans. Except maybe, what Footballs made in cheap factories for World cup? Pakistan has yet to be proven on, to have a reputation, to sell something with a local branded name.

    And I think pakistani govt and military leaders knew and know this. So the name was the right choice.

    Your analogies are not accurate to compare, and though I’d say calling Thunder a local name, can be done inside Pakistan. Regardless terminology is not the main issue as far as weapon goes, but is as far as Marketing goes.

  • by ahmad
    Posted March 1, 2018 7:20 pm 0Likes

    It improves with use (ml). So it’ll be good as a human soon enough 🙂

  • by Shariq Shakil
    Posted March 2, 2018 1:22 am 0Likes

    Like Zarrar, Khalid, Ababeel, Zarb, Harba we could name JF-17 but what to do with Ghulaam mind set as well as export orientation makes it hard for PAF to think that way…

  • by Jigsaw
    Posted March 2, 2018 1:58 am 0Likes

    Your comment really sums up the priorities Pakistanis have.

  • by Jigsaw
    Posted March 2, 2018 2:02 am 0Likes

    India’s laughs is the last thing on PAF’s mind when completing the JF-17 programme and the Block 3 roll out. You want to compare JF-17 programme to Tejas? That means you’ve no idea of either of them even with all the public info at hand. I can say exactly why they’re doing it deliberately, but it’s really useless after that comment of yours.

  • by Steve
    Posted March 2, 2018 5:52 am 0Likes

    We need a better engine and a good AESA. Other stuff is mostly icing on the cake. Also WRT relaxed stability and FBW…If an aircraft is designed to be stable like JF17 earlier iterations were in the absence of all axis FBW, how do you retro-design it to have relaxed stabily to get maximum benefit of FBW like Block III is said to have? Can an aviation expert please enlighten us?

  • by Steve
    Posted March 2, 2018 6:01 am 0Likes

    Delays are inevitable in aircraft design testing and production. People not recognising that are fools. WRT India, they may laugh or not but will definitely try to harm us in every possible way irrespective of what we do or don’t do, as they are an implacable enemy, and have not reconciled with our very existence. That fact is crystal clear. At best they want us as a subservient client state living by their leave. This “terrorism” drama is just that. Anyone denying that is living in a dream world.

  • by Steve
    Posted March 2, 2018 6:15 am 0Likes

    To be fair some Urdu words are difficult to pronounce for the rest of the world. English speakers do not have the phonetic ability to do long A’s like South Asians can. Also their is no English equivalent to غ. You can have a Urdu name but the rest of the world will mispronounce your product lol!

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 2, 2018 6:44 am 0Likes

    The name didn’t have to be a literal translation of Thunder, which BTW is an incredibly dull and unimaginative name anyway (just my opinion I may add before the JF17-crazy keyboard warriors unsheathe the swords). Mushak is an easily pronounced Urdu word. The trainer aircraft has sold and is selling just fine. As for PAF squadrons, it’s a real potpourri of Arabic, Urdu, English names of various creatures and qualities. Who are we trying to sell our squadrons to?

    Anyway, I’m off to my local restaurant soon. Torn between going for mutton pilau or chicken biryani.

  • by Askari
    Posted March 2, 2018 2:17 pm 0Likes

    Yes.. But the word ‘thunder’ is also uses in Pashto language.. So it is local language word in this regards.. It’s no matter, thunder is also a beautiful name,,

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 2, 2018 2:30 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Askari, I didn’t know the word “thunder” is used in the Pashto language. Does it have the same meaning as in English?

  • by Navid Butt
    Posted March 3, 2018 9:49 am 0Likes

    … about CHI (na)-PAK(istan)=CHIPAK

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted March 3, 2018 10:34 am 0Likes

    Lol, a good suggestion but it’s a bit late now to submit JF-17 name suggestions! Even if it absolutely had to be an English name, there are plenty of Pakistani local offerings – BunKebab, MeterHigh, LightOut. No seriously, I seem to be a minority on this but I’d have loved it to be an Urdu word. There are plenty of easily pronounced options.

  • by Jigsaw
    Posted March 3, 2018 12:55 pm 0Likes

    Hi. What’s your point Steve?

  • by Steve
    Posted March 3, 2018 4:38 pm 0Likes

    Information. Is Block III designed with relaxed stability or not?

  • by Joseph
    Posted March 4, 2018 3:31 am 0Likes

    I don’t think anyone knows that yet unless you are deep inside of the design team. But block 3 should have stealth features, which usually reduce aircraft stability and of course due to the adoption of fly by wire the stability of the aircraft could be intentionally reduced to increase maneuverability. The level of changes will depend on how much funding is allocated to the project, but I have no doubt it will happen at least to some extent.

  • by Steve
    Posted March 4, 2018 11:45 am 0Likes

    I suspect their are design changes pending hence the 18 month delay. If they go back to wind tunnels it’s more like 3 -4 years 🙁 To be fair I don’t know how important FBW is in this situation.

  • by Jigsaw
    Posted March 4, 2018 12:19 pm 0Likes

    I believe if the block 3 is being equipped with a full FBW system then yes, it will also factor relaxed stability. PAF wants the JF-17 to do the work of inaccessible F-16 block 52s and 70 for it, hence there is higher chance of it approaching or exceeding F-16s in certain areas if not all. Without a modern engine approaching 100 KN thrust however, it will still lack in a critical area. I see block 3 to be loaded with everything of a 4.5th gen fighter in time, but the engine will hold back its true potential, which is also why SAAB also had to switch to a high performance American engine for NG. More or less block 3 will be an NG and meet or exceed block 52/70s performance in some areas. It’s PAF’s spearhead until J-31 or another platform is onboarded so PAF wont compromise on it – the way it did on block 1 and 2 because it had the room to. Now there ain’t much room and Chinese have made new technologies possible locally.

  • by Jigsaw
    Posted March 4, 2018 12:21 pm 0Likes

    Only composites. nothing really ground breaking here wrt stealth.

  • by Steve
    Posted March 4, 2018 6:46 pm 0Likes

    I fully agree. Time for Bajwa and Abbasi to personally meet Putin for RD-33MK, 150 engines for Block III. Promise him a say In Afghanistan and cooperation for pipelines. Get Gazprom a role in all. It’s obvious what needs to happen. America needs to be told to go forth and procreate. Lol

  • by Steve
    Posted March 4, 2018 7:00 pm 0Likes

    So it’s time to dump the LERX’s then. Visit to a wind tunnel anyone?! Hope it does not delay project for too long!

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