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IDEAS 2022: The JF-17 Reaches a Key Maturation Phase

One of the highlights of Pakistan’s most recent biennial defence exhibition, IDEAS 2022, is the story around the JF-17’s growth as a platform. Though the JF-17 Block-3 was not present at the event, its presence was felt through the buzz surrounding its new subsystems and, potentially, weapon systems.

There were signs throughout the exhibition that the JF-17 had finally reached a key maturation stage. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was on the cusp of inducting it and its subsystems, such as an active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar, integrated electronic countermeasures (ECM) suite, and, a finally-announced helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S) system.

Historically, the PAF would induct new technologies through a high-cost platform that it would induct in limited numbers, at least initially. However, with the JF-17 Block-3, the PAF is getting marque capabilities found on its ‘high-end’ platform (i.e., J-10CE) through a mainstay asset it can acquire in numbers.

New Helmet Mounted Display and Sight (HMD/S) for JF-17 and J-10CE

One of the long-awaited reveals was the HMD/S system of the JF-17 Block-3 and the J-10CE, i.e., PAF’s new mainstay multi-role fighter aircraft.
The PAF had sought an HMD/S for the JF-17 since as early as the Block-II. However, the PAF was not able to find a willing supplier. In the early 2010s, the leading option was likely the Thales TopOwl-F; however, the chill in Pakistan’s defence ties with France likely closed that avenue.

Due to the limited options available on the market, the PAF had to push the HMD/S to the JF-17 Block-3

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Taimoor Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM)

At IDEAS 2022, the PAF revealed that it will induct a new air-launched cruise missile (ALCM), which it has named ‘Taimoor.’ The Taimoor ALCM seems virtually identical to the Ra’ad II ALCM, which has a range of 550-600 km. However, it seems that the PAF is planning to use the Taimoor ALCM as a conventional stand-off range weapon (SOW). Some observers who had attended IDEAS 2022 report that the PAF termed the Taimoor ALCM as a next-generation anti-ship missile as well.

The Taimoor ALCM could be a sign of the PAF investing in the JF-17 and, potentially, J-10CE’s SOW suite by adding a long-range, heavy-payload weapon. It is not known which of Pakistan’s in-house bureaus will be producing the Taimoor ALCM, but it is likely National Engineering & Scientific Commission (NESCOM).

GIDS (Global Industrial & Defence Solutions), which markets products on behalf of Pakistan’s state-owned enterprises (SOE), started promoting the “Harbah-NG” anti-ship cruising missile (ASCM). The Harbah-NG is the export variant of the Harbah, which was first announced in 2018.

There could be an intriguing scenario where the Taimoor ALCM leverages the same propulsion/engine or electronics stack as the Harbah-NG ASCM. This standardization could help with reducing the cost of these systems. In turn, standardization can them affordable enough for wide-scale conventional use. Until this point, Pakistan has largely positioned its cruise missiles for strategic use…

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