Pakistan Air Force inducts first batch of 08 dual seat JF-17 jets in its air-defense. New batch of fighter jets to bolster air power and improve training for pilots. With the induction of these dual-seat JF-17 aircraft, Pakistan Air Force is moving forward to strengthen its fleet of fighter jets and improving high-end training for fighter pilots. The batch of new jets joined Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in a ceremony attended by the country’s top air force officials as well as Chinese and Nigerian diplomats.
The induction of the dual-seat JF-17 Block II is an important step forward for the PAF. The new jets will enable the PAF to increase the pilot conversion rate to fly the JF-17 Thunder aircraft and also allow fresh cadets to train directly on the JF-17 platform rather than F-7P. The aircraft will also assist in ground attack roles, close air support and will also be a suitable candidate for the development of a dedicated escort jamming aircraft to perform the Electronic Warfare missions, similar to the EA-18G Growler of the US Navy.
JF-17 Block III – Pakistan Air Force’s first 4.5-generation bird
The Block-III variant of JF-17 will be the first 4.5-generation aircraft in PAF service equipped with modern radar system, upgraded sensors, software, and engine to meet the emerging needs. It is also going to be armed with the PL-15 and PL-10 missiles that will significantly enhance the air defense capabilities of the JF-17 fighters even surpassing the F-16 Block 52 currently in service with PAF.
The JF-17 Block III prototype first took to the skies in December 2019. The key features of the advanced variant include a new holographic head-up display, active electronically scanning array (AESA) radar, the latest targeting and electronic warfare systems and upgraded weapons.
Talking to the occasion; the defense analyst Shahid Raza said that, “JF-17 Block III will attract international interest as it will be the only 4.5-generation swing-role aircraft with an affordable price tag as opposed to other competitors. The induction of Block III will immensely improve the operational capabilities of the PAF, placing it at par with global air forces.”
At the occasion of the ceremony held at the PAC KAMRA, the PAC and China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) also signed an agreement for co-production of Chinese commercial aircraft. Highlighting the time-tested friendship between China and Pakistan, the Chinese ambassador said the JF-17 is a testimony of Sino-Pak friendship and mutual cooperation.
Addressing on the occasion, the air chief congratulated PAC and CATIC on successful accomplishment of the 2019 production target and completing first 08 dual-seat JF-17 aircraft in record time of five months. He said that, “serial production of dual-seat variant is a landmark development for JF-17 program and a true manifestation of everlasting friendship between the two friendly countries.” Furthermore, he said that “JF-17 Thunder is the backbone of PAF which has been battle proven during operation Swift Retort.”
A project prolonged for years in collaboration with the Chinese Aircraft expert company; China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC), Pakistan Air Force rolled out its JF-17 Thunder bird in the skies in December 2019.
JF-17 Thunder is a single-engine, lightweight, multi-role combat aircraft, jointly developed by China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra. The combat and battle-proven fighter jet is described as the backbone of PAF due to its exceptional air-to-air and air-to-surface combat capabilities. PAF currently operates nearly 120 JF-17 fighter jets.
According to the PAF official statement regarding JF-17 Thunder, “The state-of-the-art avionics, optimally integrated sub-systems, computerized flight controls and capability to employ latest weapons provides a decisive advantage to JF-17 over adversaries of the same class.”
Later in the day, the Air Chief also inaugurated JF-17 Dual-Seat Integration facility at Avionics Production Factory, Kamra. The facility will enable PAF to integrate avionics and weapon systems of choice with JF-17 aircraft, ultimately providing the much needed self-reliance and operational flexibility.
These early inductions in the capacity of Air Force with advance and state of the art technology increase the Pakistan’s capacity of defense and self-reliance on its ability. It will help to counter and nullify the threat Pakistan is facing on the vulnerable borders of east and western parts. Pakistan is also exporting these fighter birds to Nigeria in coming days. Pakistan has already exported them to Myanmar and close to ink down the agreement with Argentina.
The author is doing M. Phil in Public Policy and Governance. He is working as a freelancer. Previously worked with HubPages and Washington Post.