So how good is Pakistan’s JF-17 fighter? Analysis from RUSI think-tank’s Justin Bronk


Jan 29, 2018
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United Arab Emirates
So how good is Pakistan’s JF-17 fighter? Analysis from RUSI think-tank’s Justin Bronk

Created in China, perhaps based on an Russian idea, the JF-17 is solely in service with the Pakistan Air Force. Comparable in thrust and weight levels to the Swedish Gripen, the JF-17 is an intriguing design, but how effective is it? We asked Justin Bronk, from the Royal United Services Institute for his opinion.

“The JF-17 as an airframe is certainly competitive with the F-16, being slightly aerodynamically cleaner, with a lower wing loading but a less efficient engine than the F-16s latest F110-GE-129/132 engine options. In terms of pilot interface, sensor suite and weapon flexibility, the JF-17 is roughly at a par with 1990s-vintage F-16 Block 40/42 and could be close to the USAF-standard Block 50/52, although without the conformal fuel tanks, JHMCS helmet sighting system and radar upgrades which distinguish the later Block 50/52+ and AESA which equips the UAE’s Block 60/61s.”

How would you rate the JF-17 in terms of within-visual range (WVR) and beyond-visual range (BVR) fightercapabilities?

“WVR, equipped with the MAA-1 Piranha missile, the small and agile JF-17 will be a dangerous but not exactly world-beating opponent for existing fourth generation fighters. It is limited to +8/-3g and the current block 1 and 2 fighters do not yet have a helmet mounted sight system as standard (this is promised for block 3). The JF-17 also doesn’t have a greater than 1:1 thrust to weight ratio so would be at a significant disadvantage in terms of energy management against opponents such as the F-15C, Typhoon or Su-35. BVR, the KLJ-7 radar is significantly out-ranged by the F-16’s AN/APG-68 and completely outclassed by the Rafale’s AESA array, Typhoon’s CAPTOR-M and the Su-35’s monstrously powerful Irbis-E. The JF-17s small wing area and lightweight also limit its missile-carrying capacity which further disadvantages it in BVR engagements. However, it is worth remembering that the JF-17 is not really intended to take on Typhoons, Rafales, F-15s or Su-35s. It is meant to be a cheap and cheerful light multirole fighter and configured accordingly.”

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Dec 20, 2017
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I really wish author may have spent few hours on net before going public.
Just a list from general knowledge...

Airframe superiority over F-16:
jF-17 has LERX which are incorporated in FA-18.
DSI incorporated in F-35.

Analogy with F-16:
Same as F-16 design, jF-17 has mid mounted cropped delta wings, plus tails wings, even the aspect ration is quite similar to F-16.
Same, wing tip hard point.
However, It's lighter in weight than F-16, making it more agile than F-16, due to higher TWR.

Lagging from F-16:
comparatively, less wing loading capability, but an F-16 loaded on all hard points with 400kg weapon is no go in A2A war theater. So the F-16 advantage is neutralized.
More loiter time, owing to more fuel storage capacity, but jF17 has A2A refueling capability.

Engine comparison:
As we all know it's RD-93, which has exceedingly met all of expectation of PAF.
Have lower CAPEX and OPEX in comparison to American counterparts.
Saying it's less efficient is an over statement by author, considering parameters to determine efficiency are not publicly available. fuel is input and power is out put. If US engine deliver higher power, than this is not enough to declare it more efficient. However, as per rumors from PAF, RD93 is more fuel efficient !!!
RD-93 has a potential to improve, due to it's modular design structure, and it's rumored to have higher power output version already available, technical details are not publicly made available.
So as far engine is concerned, there are just give and takes, not dramatic advantages or disadvantages.

Again jF-17 has great potential and now is branding AESA, with excellent EW capabilities, MAW sensors etc..
Indigenous data link is clearly an advantage over F-16.
jF-17 has an equally advance cockpit as F-16.

BVR- SD-10 test results shows it's at par with AIM-120 and again the SD-10 has development potential.
Other laser guided weapons, cruise missiles, stand off missiles, gravity bombs, anti ship missiles.... all are operable with jF-17.

jF-17 has it's own training simulator and dual seat a/c.
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