The JF-17 Block III, with its refined design, dramatically reduces its radar cross-section thanks to the extensive use of composite materials and advanced avionics.
JF-17 Block III Deployment Raises PAF Capabilities
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has launched its latest weapon in the air arsenal: the JF-17 “Thunder” Block III, developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) /Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC). According to Janes, this new version represents a qualitative leap in Pakistan’s air defense, with significant improvements that enhance its combat effectiveness. In November, the PAF officially announced the incorporation of this modernized fighter bomber, notable for its superior maneuverability and greater operational range.
The JF-17 Block III, with its refined design, dramatically reduces its radar cross-section thanks to the extensive use of composite materials and advanced avionics. China Central Television (CCTV) revealed that the aircraft is now equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, greatly expanding its detection and targeting capabilities.
Advanced Radar and Symbolic Presentation
The new radar system is speculated to be the KLJ-7A, developed by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (NRIET), a considerable improvement over the previous KLJ-7 V2. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has recognized that this advanced radar significantly increases the detection range and multi-target tracking capabilities of the JF-17, providing a robust defense against electronic jamming. The unveiling of the first JF-17 Block III during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad was a symbolic gesture of Pakistan’s commitment to the technological forefront in defense.
The absence of the squadron insignia on the aircraft highlighted its preliminary phase in the induction process, signaling the beginning of a new era in the PAF fighter fleet.
JF-17 Thunder: Backbone of the PAF
The JF-17 Thunder, developed in collaboration between the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation of China and the PAC, is considered the backbone of the PAF. Designed to replace multiple types of combat aircraft, the JF-17 excels in varied roles, from interception to ground attack and aerial reconnaissance. Equipped with a diverse arsenal, including missiles and bombs, and a powerful 23mm twin-barrel autocannon, the JF-17 is adaptable to a wide range of military operations.
Its cost, almost half compared to the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, strengthens its position as a key asset in Pakistan’s air fleet.
Pakistan-China Collaboration in the Production of the JF-17
A crucial element in the manufacturing of the JF-17 is the collaboration between Pakistan and China. Pakistan produces 58% of the airframe locally, strengthening its aerospace capabilities. The mass production of the Block III variant, with improvements such as AESA radar, a more powerful Russian engine, advanced display systems and an expanded arsenal, highlights Pakistan’s continued effort to modernize its defense infrastructure.
These advancements represent a significant strategic shift, ensuring a robust and technologically advanced defense and cementing Pakistan’s position as a formidable power in the global defense arena.