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PAF s' Aircraft

JF-17 Thunder

Key Data

Role: Multirole combat aircraft
Countries: China and Pakistan
Crew: One
Maiden Flight: August 2003
Introduced: March 2007
Numbers Built: 20
Estimated Cost: $15m to $20m

Dimensions:

Length: 14.9m
Height: 4.77m
Width: 9.46m
Wing Area: 24.4m²

Weights:

Empty Weight: 6,411kg
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 12,474kg
Loaded Weight: 9,072kg
Maximum Landing Weight: 7,802kg
Fuel Weight: 2,268kg

Engines:

Type: Klimov RD-93 turbofan engine
Number of Engines: One
Dry Thrust: 49.4kN
Thrust After Burner: 84.4kN

Performance:

Maximum Speed: 1,909km per hour
Ferry Range: 2,037km
Operational Radius: 1,352km
Service Ceiling: 15,240m

Armament

Guns: 1 x 2 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon
Rockets: 57mm, 90mm unguided rocket pods
Air-to-Air Missiles: Short range: AIM-9L/M, PL-5E, PL-9C Beyond visual range: PL-12 / SD-10
Air-to-Surface Missiles: MAR-1 anti-radiation missile, AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile, and Ra'ad ALCM cruise missile
Bombs: Unguided bombs: Mk-82, Mk-84 general purpose bombs, Matra Durandal anti-runway bomb, and CBU-100/Mk-20 Rockeye anti-armour cluster bomb Precision guided munitions: GBU-10, GBU-12, LT-2 laser-guided bombs, H-2, H-4 electro-optically guided, LS-6 satellite-
Others: 3 x external fuel drop tanks for extended range

Key Players

Designer: Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute
Manufacturer: Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation, China and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Pakistan
Operator: Pakistan Air Force (PAF)
Contractors/Suppliers: Engine: Klimov Wings and tail fin: Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Radar: Selex Galileo

Introduction

The FC-1 Xiaolong / JF-17 Thunder is a single engine, lightweight, multipurpose combat aircraft that was developed jointly by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC) of China and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) of Pakistan.

The medium-sized aircraft is built mainly to meet the needs of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and will replace its current ageing fleet of Nanchang A-5, Chengdu F-7P / PG and Dassault Mirage III / V fighter aircraft.

The maiden flight of the FC-1 was completed in August 2003 and entered service in March 2007. The aircraft is designated as Joint Fighter-17 (JF-17 by Pakistan and as Fighter China-1 (FC-1) by China. The FC-1 / JF-17 is expected to cost around $15m-20m.

Orders and deliveries

PAF ordered eight JF-17 aircraft. The first two were delivered on 12 March 2007 and the remaining six were delivered in 2008.

PAF will procure 42 JF-17 fighters as part of an $800m contract signed in March 2009. It plans to procure 250 aircraft at a cost of $3bn-5bn.

The first two aircraft were delivered in 2009. The first Pakistani-built JF-17 was delivered to PAF in November 2009. Approximately 200 JF-17 aircraft will be procured by 2015.

FC-1 design

Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute designed the FC-1. The airframe is a semi-monocoque structure and is constructed principally of aluminium alloys, steel and titanium. The aircraft comprises lateral air intakes and electronic equipment pod diffuser supersonic inlets.

Development

Development of the JF-17 began with the origination of Super-7 in 1986 under a $500m joint Chengdu-Grumman development project, but the project was cancelled for financial and political reasons.

Chengdu continued the development of Super-7 in 1991 under the brand name FC-1 / JF-17. Pakistan and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 1995 to build the aircraft. In 1998, the countries signed a Letter of Intent and the contract was awarded in June 1999.

To speed up development, the avionics and radar systems design of the aircraft was separated from the airframes. The preliminary design was completed in 2001 and the detailed structure in 2002. Funding for the programme was provided by China Aviation Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) and Pakistan, each owning a 50% stake.

Development of the first prototype began in September 2002 and production was completed in May 2003. Design flaws of the JF-17 were identified after its first flight in 2003. After a significant redesign the fourth prototype production was completed in April 2006. The sixth prototype first flew in September 2006.

Sub-assemblies of the JF-17 started in Pakistan on 22 January 2008 and final assembly began in June 2009. PAC is produces 15 aircraft per year and is expected to produce aircraft at the rate of 30 per year from 2011.

FC-1 cockpit

The FC-1 is equipped with a glass cockpit and a specially designed canopy. The cockpit features three multifunction displays (MFD), head-up display (HUD), 32-bit weapon and mission management computer (WMMC) and a hands-on throttle and stick.

An up-front control panel (UFCP) is fitted between the MFD and HUD. The Chinese HUD is designed and developed to overwhelm the fog-up error that frequently occurs in humid, sub-tropical and tropical zones.

An acrylic canopy covers the aircraft's cockpit and provides clear all-round visibility.

Avionics

The avionics suite includes electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS), flight control system (FCS), health and usage monitoring system (HUMS), automatic test equipment, UHF / VHF communication radios, simpatico data links, inertial navigation system (INS) and an identification friend-or-foe (IFF) transponder.

Armaments

FC-1 / JF-17 is armed with GSh-23 dual-barrel 23mm cannon or GSh-30 dual-30mm cannon. The aircraft has seven hardpoints of which four are located under the wings, one under the fuselage and two mounted on the wingtips. It can carry up to 3,700kg payload.

The aircraft is fitted with PL-12 or SD-10 radar homing medium-range air-to-air missile (MRAAM), unguided bombs, satellite guided bombs, gravity bombs, anti-ship missiles, anti-radiation missiles, rocket launchers and a laser designator pod.

The FC-1 / JF-17 is equipped with AIM-9L / M, PL-5E, PL-9C short range air-to-air missiles on its wingtip hardpoints.

Countermeasures

The FC-1 is equipped with a defensive aids system (DAS), which includes a radar warning system (RWS), missile approach and warning system (MAWS), a countermeasure dispensing system and a self-protection radar jamming pod. The RWS collects the direction and proximity of the enemy radar and transmits the data to the pilot.

The MAWS comprises various optical sensors that detect and display the rocket missiles approaching the aircraft on MFDs. The decoy flares and chaff incorporated in the countermeasure dispensing system prevents the enemy's missile from tracking the aircraft by locking the radar system of the enemy aircraft.

Radars

The initial 42 JF-17 aircraft being delivered to PAF are fitted with an NRIET KLJ-7 radar. The KLJ-7 radar can track ten targets located beyond visual range (BVR) through track-while-scan mode.

An Italian Galileo Avionica Grifo S-7 pulse Doppler radar will replace the KLJ-7 radar in PAF's JF-17 aircraft. This radar can operate in 25 working modes for 200 hours continuously. Look-down, shoot-down and ground-strike are further capabilities.

Landing gear

A retractable tricycle-type landing gear is fitted to the JF-17. A steerable nosewheel is located under the cockpit between the air intakes, while the two main wheels are attached under the fuselage section between the wings. It also features hydraulic brakes comprising an automated anti-skid system.

FC-1 / JF-17 is powered by a single Klimov RD-93 turbofan engine. Each engine can produce a maximum of 49.4kN dry thrust and its thrust after-burner is 84.4kN.

An advanced WS-13 turbofan engine is currently being developed by Liyang Aero Engine Corporation, Guizhou, to replace the Klimov RD-93. It is expected to produce output thrust of 80 to 86.36 kN with a lifespan of 2,200 hours.

The fuel system, featuring internal fuel tanks carrying 2,330kg of fuel, is fitted to the FC-1. These tanks can be refuelled through a single-point-of-pressure refuelling system. The fuel system is also simpatico with Inflight Refuelling (IFR). The FC-1 being produced for the PAF will be fitted with IFR probes.

FC-1 performance

The FC-1 can fly at a maximum speed of 1,909km per hour. The range and service ceiling of the aircraft are 2,037km and 15,240m, respectively. Its operational radius is 1,352km. The aircraft weighs around 6,411kg and its maximum take-off weight is 12,474kg.

Source: Airforce Technology

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