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South Asia , Aircraft and Anti-Aircraft

Pakistan Finalises Design for JF-17 Block III; What to Expect From the New Jet Fighter

March 26th - 2018

The Pakistan Air Force's Chief of Air Staff Sohail Aman in his final speech to Air Headquarters announced that the design of the most recent advanced of the country's JF-17 fighter had been finalised. The Air Force agreed on the final design of the JF-17 Block III after a two and a half years of design work. The fighter is set to provide significantly enhanced capabilities relative to the Block II fighter currently in production, though these improvements will be reflected in the aircraft's cost. The fighter is set to become the most advanced in production in any Asian state other than China and South Korea, and will be jointly manufactured by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Aviation Industry Group of China. Pakistan's Air Force already fields over 100 domestically manufactured JF-17 fighters from Block I and Block II.

The JF-17 Block III is set to integrate an advanced AESA radar capable of tracking fifteen targets and engaging four simultaneously at extreme distances. When armed with sophisticated Chinese built PL-12 air to air missiles, the fighters are able to pose a threat to enemy aircraft at distances of up to 100km, making them arguably more lethal than Pakistan's F-16 fighters which rely on U.S. made AIM-120B missiles which have poorer manoeuvrability and are restricted to a 75km range. Other formidable armaments include the YJ-12, a 400km range anti ship missile with a payload of 200-500kg designed to allow China's fighters to destroy threaten hostile warships including aircraft carriers. Equipping the JF-17 with these missiles does much to compensate for the larger size and more advanced capabilities of the Indian and U.S. Navies by providing critical air support to Pakistan's own NavyLong range targeting will be facilitated by advanced Chinese designed KLJ-7A radars, which are produced in the Pakistani town of Kamra north of Islamabad. Block III fighters are also set to integrate significantly improved HMD avionics and an infrared search and tracking system. New engines are also expected to allow the fighter to exceed speeds of Mach 2 for the first time, eclipsing the speeds of the vast majority of several light fighters including the Dassault Rafale, HAL Tejas, F-18E and F-16. The fighter is also set to make a greater use of composite materials, making the airframe more resilient and lighter. Induction of the JF-17 Block III into the Air Force is expected to have started by the end of 2020. 

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