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Project AZM: Updates on Pakistan’s Next-Gen Fighter Aircraft

Author Profile: Syed Aseem Ul Islam is PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA, specializing in adaptive and model-predictive flight control systems. He received his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad, and his master’s degree in flight dynamics and control from the University of Michigan.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) recently revealed a wide range of updates on its projects, including its next-generation fighter aircraft (NGFA) program under Project AZM, the status of the JF-17 Block-III, and several other key focus areas.[1]

First Steps Towards Digital Engineering

Air Marshal Noman highlighted that PAC has been using digital engineering tools and processes to refine its JF-17 production line. PAC is applying digitization, where feasible, to boost the output and improve the quality of JF-17-related manufacturing. Air Marshal Noman added that PAC is collaborating (possibly with the newly established Centre of Artificial Intelligence and Computing) with other entities on implementing artificial intelligence (AI). This is a strong indicator that the PAF could be thinking about incorporating new maintenance and support processes, such as predictive maintenance using digital twins, to its workflow.

Preliminary Design of the Azm FGFA

In terms of Project AZM, PAC revealed that the “project is being conceptualized and preliminary designs are ongoing.” In other words, the PAF has yet to finalize the design. This revelation is not surprising – for the PAF, the requirements and technologies that would go into the NGFA are fluid in nature, and subject to change over time… (finish the article by logging in or by subscribing to Quwa Premium).

The Role of the JF-17 Program

The PAC chairman offered several noteworthy comments about the JF-17.

First, the PAF confirmed that it will install the KLJ-7A active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to the Block-III and two-seat JF-17B. PAC’s Aviation Production Factory (APF) will also assemble the KLJ-7A, i.e., continuing from the KLJ-7/V2 assembly line already in place to support the Block-I and Block-II…(finish the article by logging in or by subscribing to Quwa Premium).

Will Azm’s Prototype Fly in 2028?

It is highly unlikely that the first NGFA prototype will fly in 2028, especially when PAC has yet to complete the preliminary design phase of the aircraft. Moreover, several cycles of detailed design work remain, and each of those cycles will take at least two to three years to complete…(finish the article by logging in or by subscribing to Quwa Premium).

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Get More Insights on the Pakistan’s NGFA Program:

[1] Alan Warnes. “Pride of Pakistan.” Air International. March 2021. p46.