The PAC JF-17 Thunder (Urdu: جے ایف-١٧ گرج), or CAC FC-1 Xiaolong (Fierce Dragon; Chinese: 枭龙; pinyin: Xiāo Lóng), is a lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed jointly by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. The JF-17 can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack and aircraft interception. Its designation “JF-17” by Pakistan is short for “Joint Fighter-17”, while the designation and name “FC-1 Xiaolong” by China means “Fighter China-1 Fierce Dragon”.
The JF-17 can deploy diverse ordnance, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon. Powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or RD-93 afterburning turbofan it has a top speed of Mach 1.6. The JF-17 is to become the backbone of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), complementing the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon whose performance it roughly matches, at half the cost. The PAF inducted its first JF-17 squadron in February 2010 and five years later 54 units were in service, and 96 units were on order, to be delivered by the end of 2018.
The airframe is of semi-monocoque structure constructed primarily of aluminium alloys. High strength steel and titanium alloys are partially adopted in some critical areas. The airframe is designed for a service life of 4,000 flight hours or 25 years, the first overhaul being due at 1,200 flight hours. Block 2 JF-17s incorporate greater use of composite materials in the airframe to reduce weight.
The mid-mounted wings are of cropped-delta configuration. Near the wing root are the LERX, which generate a vortex that provides extra lift to the wing at high angles of attack encountered during combat manoeuvres. A conventional tri-plane empennage arrangement is incorporated, with all-moving stabilators, single vertical stabiliser, rudder, and twin ventral fins. The flight control surfaces are operated by a computerised flight control system (FCS), which also adjusts the slats/flaps for improved manoeuvrability. Up to 3,629 kg (8,001 lb) of ordnance, equipment, and fuel can be mounted under the hardpoints, two of which are on the wing-tips, four are under the wings and one is under the fuselage.
JF-17 Thunder Block-II makes its first public appearance: Here
According to the sources, JF-17 block II will cost approximately US$30–35 million per unit.
Pakistan launched production of the JF-17 Block-II at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in 2013. The Kamra production facility was reconfigured for the production of the new version. Air Marshal Javaid Ahmed, chairman of PAC, earlier stated: “We will hand over 16 Block-II JF-17s to the PAF every year”, and that the manufacturing plant has the capacity to produce 25 units in a year.”
JF-17 weapon load:
- CM-400AKG – Hypersonic Carrier Killer
- Ra’ad – Stealth Stand off Cruise Missile (Nuclear Capable)
- C-802AK – Multirole Attack Cruise Missile
- SD-10A – Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile
- MAR-1 – Anti Radiation Missile
- MAA-1, AIM-9L/M, PL-05EII – Within Visual Range Air to Air Missile
- CBU-100 – Anti Armor Cluster Bombs
- GBU-10/12 – LT-2 – Laser Guided Smart Munitions
- LS-6 – GPS Guided Direct Attack Munitions
- H-4 – long ranged (120+ km) Stand of weapon
- HAFR-1– Anti Runway Bomb
- Takbir Satellite Guided Stand off Munition
- LS-Series – Satellite Guided Glide Munitions
Myanmar’s first JF-17 Thunder fighter jet: Here
During Air Sino-Pakistanais “Shaheen VI” a J – 11b “beat” two JF-17 in a dogfight 1 vs 2: Here
The man-machine interface of JF-17 Thunder is kept very simple and flexible at the same time too. The cockpit consists of three Multi functional displays (MFDs) supported by a smart Heads Up Display (HUD). The symbology and functionality of the controls is kept very much similar to SAAB’s Gripen aircraft – an aircraft evaluated by PAF in the past. Implementation of HOTAS (Hands On Throttle-And-Stick) is visible in the design. The commonalty of the cockpit helps in decreasing time and training costs thus making a speedy fighter conversion to the aircraft.
JF-17 Thunder cockpit
Comparision of Saab Gripen cockpit
Comparision of Saab Gripen cockpitA detailed labeled illustration of JF-17 cockpit.JF-17’s stick with buttons for weapon release (red one), missile override (top right), display management (top-left), countermeasures management (front bottom). Options included on the other side of stick are communication switch, air-to-ground mode selection, trigger, cursor control etc.The right auxiliary control panel includes various types of sensors information including secondary voice communication panel, avionics power management, aircraft data storage and transfer management, cockpit lights management and HUD management options.A labeled picture of JF-17’s Integrated Control Panel (ICP), data entry display and Multi Functional Displays (MFD). JF-17’s cockpit has three 6X8 inch wide MFDs. The information displayed on all these MFDs is interchangeable and pilot can easily switch information among them.A labeled picture of JF-17’s Heads Up Display (HUD). The symbology and functionality of the controls is kept very much similar to SAAB’s Gripen aircraft.A close up of front instrumentation panel that includes Smart Heads Up Display(S-HUD), cockpit audio recorder and Airborne Video Tape Recorder (AVTR). The elevated design of this panel also helps in decreasing the sun flare from entering the cockpit.PK-16LE MK16 ejection seat also has an ejection sequencer, which manages the separation time of ejection seat and parachute of the ejectee pilot. The main features of PL-16LE MK16 are the rearward firing headbox, leg restraints and enhanced cushions. Beneath the seat cushions are the pilot’s survival kit which includes a rescue flares, small boat, medicine, food and some other accessories.
Internal armament comprises one 23 mm (0.91 in) GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon mounted under the port side air intake, which can be replaced with a 30 mm (1.2 in) GSh-30-2 twin-barrel cannon
Weapons package of the JF-17 on display at Zhuhai Airshow 2014. Of prominence are C-802AK Anti-Ship missile (first picture – above ), GB-600 Stand-Off-Weapon (SOW) and C-102 Anti-Radiation Missile. CM-102 is a Anti-Radar Missile with range of 100km. It has high hit accuracy and a 80kg warhead. PAF has already inducted the Brazillian origin MAR-1 ARM for its JF-17 fleet.Artistic impression of JF-17 Block-II with in-flight refueling probe. The aircraft is equipped with GBU-12 LGBs and WMD-7 Pod on centerline station with CCS marking.Artistic impression of the JF-17 Block-II formation employing 500kg GB-6 SOW. GB-6 is a 500kg bomb guided with GPS/INS system. It can be used for large-scale ground targets such as vital enemy installations.
JF-17 can carry three external fuel tanks (2x 1100 L under wing and 1X 800 L centerline fuel tank) both Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground role.
The maximum range (3,000km) in a High-High-High mission profile is achieved in the following configuration:
– Stores: 2 x PL-5E II SRAAM + 2 x SD-10A MRAAM + 2 x 1100 L tank + 800 L tank.
The maximum range (1,200km) in a Medium-Low-Low-High mission profile is achieved in the following configuration:
– Stores: 2 x PL-5E II SRAAM + 4 x 250kg bomb + 2 x 1100 L tank + 800 L tank.
JF-17 has a maximum take-off weight 27,336 lb (12,400kg), maximum external stores weight of 8820lbs (4,000kg)
|WMD-7 pod||2.700 m||0.390 m||280 kg|
|C-802A||6.392 m||36 cm||715 kg|
|Ra’ad ALCM||4.85 m||—||1100 kg|
|H-2/4 SOW||3650 mm||38 cm||H-4: 1200 kgH-2: 980 kg (2,160 lb)|
|MK-82 bomb||87.4 inches (2,220 mm)||10.75 inches (273 mm)||227 kg (500 lb)|
|MK-84 bomb||129 in (3280 mm)||18 in (458 mm)||925 kg (2039 lb)|
|LT-3||3.58m||0.38 m||564 kg|
|LS-6 (500 kg)||300mm||377mm||540kg|
|AIM-9L Sidewinder||2850 mm||127mm||85.3kg|
|MAR-1 ARM||4.03 metres (13.2 ft)||0.23 metres (0.75 ft)||274 kilograms (600 lb)|
LS-6 Precision Guided Glide BombC-802 Anti-Shipping MissileMAR-1 Anti Radiation MissileHafr Runway Penetration BombH-2/4 Stand-Off Weapon Ra’ad Air Launched Cruise MissileGBU-12 Laser Guided Bomb and WMD-7 Electro Optic Targeting podThe Divert-less Supersonic Inlets DSI’s relatively small size helps in reducing the radar cross section thus help in decreasing the radar cross section of the aircraft. Safety markings for ground crew are also visible on both sides of the intake.Radar warning receiver (RWR) systems detect the radio emissions of radar systems near the drogue chute
BM/KJ-8602 [SPS-1000] (RW 1045) Radar Warning Receiver
Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) is designed to provide the pilot with real time and unambiguous threat warning over 360 degrees thus reducing vulnerability of the combat aircraft to radar associated weapons. Currently two different models of RWR are available i.e. BM/KJ-8602 RWR and BM/KJ-8602A RWR.
|SENSORS / EW:|
|China BM/KJ 8602C – (RW 1045) ESM
Role: RWR, Radar Warning Receiver
Max Range: 222.2 km
Turkey’s Aselsan to supply targeting pods for Pakistan’s JF-17 fighters: Here
Pakistan wants to upgrade JF-17 fighter with Thales’ Damocles targeting pod: Here
DAMOCLES – Multi-function Targeting pod
Multi-function pod with a laser designation function to provide a day/night smart weapons guidance capability as well as a full suite of sensors for navigation and airto-
air target identification roles.
Currently in service, combat proven and integrated on Mirage 2000, Mirage F1, RAFALE, SEM, SU-30, Tornado and Typhoon.
DAMOCLES – Multi-function Targeting pod @thalesgroup.com
- Compatible with laser guided weapons, INS/GPS guided missiles and imagery-guided weapons
- Attacks in autonomous or cooperative mode, using integrated laser spot tracker and laser marker
- Long range damage assessment capability
- Target recognition capability
- 3D localisation
- Integrated navigation FLIR
- Medium range day/night small targets reconnaissance Air-to-Air
- Day/night visual airborne target identification
- Powerful laser and high resolution imagery provide the aircraft with a stand-off range and tactical ground/air defence system survivability
- Advanced technology featuring state-of-the-art staring array detector effective at long range
- Robust new generation tracking systems
- Superior image processing
- 3rd generation detector
- Spectral band: 3-5 μm
- Field of View:
– Wide FoV: 4° x 3°
– Narrow FoV: 1° x 0.75°
– Electronic magnification: x2
- Wavelength: 1.5 μm
- Wavelength: 1.06 μm
- STANAG 3733
Laser spot tracker
- Wavelength: 1.06 μm
- Wavelength: 0.8 μm
DAMOCLES – Multi-function Targeting pod @thalesgroup.com
The RD-93 is known to produce smoke trails. The Guizhou Aero Engine Group has been developing a new turbofan engine, the WS-13 Taishan, since 2000 to replace the RD-93. It is based on the Klimov RD-33 and incorporates new technologies to boost performance and reliability. A thrust output of 80 to 86.36 kN (17,980 to 19,410 lbf), a lifespan of 2,200 hours, and a thrust-to-weight ratio of 8.7 are expected. An improved version of the WS-13, developing a thrust of around 100 kN (22,000 lbf) (22,450 lb), is also reportedly under development.
JF-17 Thunder has a modified RD-33 engine capable of producing 79-98kN of thrust.Comparison between WS-13 and RD-33
A Chinese radar KLJ-7 has been selected for the initial batch of JF-17s.
KLJ-7 is a multi–function X-band Pulse-Doppler fire control radar. It was developed by Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (NRIET), also known as the China Electronics Technology Company’s (CETC’s) No. 14 Research Institute.
- Frequency: X band
- Operation range (RCS of 5 m2) :
Up-looking detection range >105KM
Down-looking detection range >85km
- Management of up to 40 targets
- Numbers of simultaneously tracked targets: 10
- Simultaneously fire on 2 BVR targets
- Weight: <120 kg
- Meantime between failure: 220 hours
- Meantime to recovery: 0.5 hours
- Guidance for medium/long range missiles.
- All waveform design.
- Air/air, Air/ground, air/sea and navigation functions.
- Compact structure.
- Parasitic IFF antena on radar anetnna array.
- Low sidelobe slotted plane array antenna technique.
- High-speed parallel digitial signal processing.
14 Operational Modes:
- Range While Search (RWS)
- Velocity Search (VS)
- Single Target Track (STT)
- Track While Scan (TWS)
- Dual Target Track (DTT)
- Situational Awareness Mode (SAM)
- Air Combat Mode (ACM)(with five sub-modes)
- Real Beam Map (RBM)
- Doppler Beam Sharpening (DBS)
- Ground Moving Target Indication/Ground Moving Target Track (GMTI/GMTT)
- Air to Ground Ranging (AGR)
- Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
- Sea Single Target Track (SSTT)
- Beacon (BCN)
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.6 (1,217.9 mph; 1,960.1 km/h)
- Combat radius: 1,352 km (840 mi)
- Ferry range: 3,482 km (1,880 NM)
- Service ceiling: 16,920 m (55,500 ft)
- Thrust/weight: 0.95
Block 1 USD 25 million
Block 2 USD 28 million
Type KLJ-7A airborne AESA radar for JF-17 Block III
JF-17 Block III model
JF-17B first flight
THE JF-17B COULD BE THE FOUNDATION OF THE BLOCK-III: Here
It would be erroneous to argue that the JF-17 is not hampered by its drawbacks, but it would be equally disingenuous to argue that there were feasible and accessible alternatives. The JF-17’s baseline design – i.e. the Super-7 – was frozen at a time when Pakistan was sanctioned by the U.S., which in turn resulted in the non-delivery of 71 Lockheed Martin F-16A/B Block-15s. In the absence of accessible alternatives, the only alternate avenue for the PAF would have been to retire aging A-5s, F-7Ps and Mirage III and 5s without enough replacements, thereby causing a sharp downfall in fleet size.
The JF-17 was to return to the drawing board anyways (to accommodate for emerging technology trends – i.e. Block-III), but the cost of its absence would have been buying costlier imports. Since 18 F-16 Block-52+ cost $1.4 billion U.S., the alternative (in the 2000s and 2010s) would have, at best, been another one or two new F-16 squadrons. The PAF tried to offset the design limitations with relatively good Western subsystems and avionics, most notably from Thales, but this too fell through due to cost as well as Paris’ desire to reinforce its efforts to sell the Dassault Rafale to India.
Ultimately, the PAF proceeded with the JF-17 as-is, and successfully supplanted its A-5s, F-7Ps and Mirages. In addition, the JF-17 emerged as a credible air defence compliment to the F-16s, resulting a doubling of network-enabled and BVRAAM-capable fighters in the PAF (to 150+ fighters). It also increased the number of fighters capable of deploying stand-off range air-to-surface munitions, especially since the F-16s have yet to be equipped with such munitions. In 2015, the PAF confirmed that the JF-17 was cleared for using the C-802 anti-ship missile and Mectron MAR-1 anti-radiation missile (for engaging ground-based radars). In March 2017, the PAF celebrated the successful integration of the Global Industrial & Defence Solutions Range Extension Kit, a precision-guided glide-bomb kit (providing 50-60 km in range) for Mk-8x-series general purpose bombs.
The JF-17 was also accompanied by other important gains. Besides being a fighter the PAF could freely equip and configure, it also enabled Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) to build a strong local supply channel to support the fighter. This began with merely assembling kits from China, but by 2015, PAC was responsible for manufacturing 58% of the fighter (with AVIC providing the remaining 42% under the original workshare agreement).
The local channel also enables the PAF to support the JF-17 using domestic currency and labour costs, enabling the fighter’s operational costs to be more affordable than imports. PAC is also serving a vital role in being the supplier of the JF-17’s electronics, which it is manufacturing under co-production or licensing agreements. Not only are Chinese systems being produced under license, but several Western subsystems are also being built at PAC (under co-production deals).
While the PAF opted to induct the JF-17 Block-I and Block-II, it was fully cognizant of the capabilities found on and expected of contemporary high-technology fighters. For the JF-17, the PAF may have pushed the bulk of those requirements to the forthcoming JF-17 Block-III. Granted, the slated subsystems – such as the active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar and HMD/S – would be significant upgrades, but the JF-17B seems to suggest that the Block-III will be more than just tacking new equipment to an existing design. The design itself may see several key alterations.
The swept-back vertical stabilizer of the JF-17B is housing components for a new three-axis fly-by-wire system. If this is replacing the hybrid flight control system of the Block-I/II, then it may mean a reduction in weight as well as added net internal space. Interestingly, a CAC representative (Zhu Zeng) was quoted saying in 2013 that while the JF-17 Block-I was using a hybrid flight control system, CAC did have a fully digital flight control system it could develop in two years. This may have been put into the JF-17B.
Externally, the JF-17B is larger than the JF-17 Block-I/II. The JF-17B has an enlarged nose to accommodate an AESA radar, but there are other airframe changes as well. AVIC’s purported JF-17B brochure states that the JF-17B’s wingspan is a half-metre longer than that of the JF-17 Block-I/II (9.5 m vs. 9.0 m). It is also slightly longer than the Block-I/II (14.5 m vs. 14.26 m). The lengthened wingspan may indicate an increase in payload, which is one of the JF-17 Block-III’s additions (Aviation Week – subscription required). The JF-17B airframe may also been built differently than the Block-I/II, at least in terms of materials (see below).
If this is a representation of greater composite materials usage, then this could be indicative of further weight reduction. It will be interesting to see if relaxed stability and lower wing loading were also incorporated into the design, especially with the presence of a digital fly-by-wire system. This would help improve the JF-17’s maneuverability.
The tail/engine exhaust area has also been altered, though it is unlikely that this is indicative of an engine switch at this time. The PAF did express interest in a new turbofan engine – the RD-33MK and WS-13. Either one of these engines would improve the JF-17’s fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, and thrust-to-weight ratio (TWR). As per Alan Warnes (via Aviation Week – subscription required), an engine switch will likely happen, though it is not known if this is slotted for the JF-17 Block-III or for later builds.
The PAF was finalizing the Block-III’s design in 2015, which was also around the time the PAF confirmed that the JF-17B will be developed and produced. Since the JF-17B itself was a new program, it is possible that the JF-17B and JF-17 Block-III are connected. Seeing the additional changes, the JF-17B is evidently a separate stream from the JF-17 Block-I/II, and it would make sense to scale the cost of developing the JF-17B to the JF-17 Block-III. Not scaling the JF-17B’s development to the Block-III would mean isolating the JF-17B as a different aircraft, which would not be cost-effective for end-users.
2nd JF-17B dual seat variant made its maiden flight on 7 December in Chengdu
Source: Wiki and PAF wall papers blog
Updated Nov 10, 2017