I am JF-17 thunder, every move of mine calculated thought-out plan, my every turn designed to strike fear into the hearts of those who challenge me. I thrive in an environment known to man, the day my Dominion the night my cloak conceived by those who’ve seen it all, designed by those who’ve done it all, flown by only the very best, the only time you’ll ever see me is when you look over your shoulder because that is where you’ll find me always on your six always on target for I am Thunder.

On its own, no Air Force in the world opts to design an aircraft as it is a long and tedious task based on countless man-hours and innumerable resources. Air Forces the world over buy off-the-shelf solutions and then tailor them to their own operational requirements. Challenges such as sanctions and poor economic conditions became the need that justified the Pakistan Air Force into the world of aircraft production.

The JF-17 program is the story of a nation’s drive to persevere and a service commitment to honor its promise of safeguarding the skies that it has been entrusted. Within this process, a world-class fighter was born, a fighter that will be at the heart of every developing country’s air defense.

Based on its superior operational capabilities at a cost that is one-third of its competition, the JF-7 Thunder program is the culmination or rather the manifestation of the requirements of a world-class battle-proven air force that has traditionally operated only top of the line aircraft which have been produced by some of the best companies in the world. The JF-17 is a product that was designed through the learning and feedback of those pilots who had flown nearly every state-of-the-art military attack fighter available to man in every operational environment and condition known to an operational pilot. What resulted is a platform able to flawlessly perform in every situation or circumstance that it is tasked with.

A staff requirement was to have a frame from the Chinese Aviation Industry and the avionics item should come from the Western origin, however, once we started to select those items, we found out that the Western equipment was not being releasable because of sanctions. Now, this was the time we had to make a decision and we started to look for the Chinese avionics system. The available equipment from China was not only qualified but also matchable to the Western equipment so our leadership decided that now not only that we should have the airframe from China we should also have the avionics equipment from China which is not compromising our quality or our requirement. However, I must share with you that some of the releasable avionics equipment still is on the sacrum and it is making an excellent gel of Chinese and the Western system together on one.

Arshad Malik, Air Vice Marshal, Chief Project Director, JF-17 Thunder Project

When considering the JF-17 Thunder, a buyer needs to take in and understand fully some key considerations. The JF-17 in their very short operational history have amassed considerable experience largely due to the diversity of operational requirements generated by the features of the country, flying them in a country like Pakistan where temperature considerations range from minus 50 degrees to 55 degrees and terrain that includes some of the highest mountain ranges to planes that boasts the most fertile soil to the deserts that have seen some of the worst droughts to the sea which is a source of life for a country that relies heavily on trade for its existence make JF-17 battle-ready for any country in any operational environment in the world.

If there is one thing the Pakistan Air Force truly excels at and is renowned for it is the relentless filtration process that it puts its pilots through only the best make it out and then they are put through some of the toughest training regiments. Pakistani pilots have ever known not only this but the battle history of the Pakistan Air Force is for the world and pilots have dominated the skies over Southeast Asia and some of them have even scored multiple kills in the skies over the Middle East in exercises. All over the world, Pakistan’s pilots have more than held their own good the pilots brought up in this tradition demand anything less from air interdiction to air superiority from bombing runs to sinking ships these pilots have done it all and have the trophies to prove it.

PAF Combat Commander School

A poignant reminder of its operational readiness is “Dragon CCS (Combat Commander School), “Combat Commander School Is The Elite Fighter Pilot Training School Like TOP GUN. It Is The place where all the platforms of the Pakistan Air Force are available That is pitch against each other, & that is the environment through which we get the best of the best to ultimately lead the Pakistan Air Force Squadrons. Pakistani Air Force Combat Commander School is the toughest proving ground in the world.

Real-world scenarios are simulated and played out. The instructors are ruthless in their evolutions and to impress them aircraft and aircrew alike have to be at their very best. It is a fact that CCS operates only those weapon systems which are combat-ready, the fact that JF-17 is here and holding its own is proof that JF-17 is ready to take on anything that comes to its fate.

It may seem incredible to the casual observer that the JF-17 has been able to quickly take on the operational requirements of the Pakistan Air Force, but if one takes into account some of its unique features there will be no doubt as to its prowess paramount. Among them is the cockpit experience its ergonomics are what define decision-making in a combat scenario. The JF-17 cockpit allows pilots to perform their duties with utmost ease and flexibility.

JF-17's Cockpit | Pakistan Defence
Courtesy: defence.pk

JF-17 incorporates a full glass cockpit with a smart heads-up display and three smart multiple function displays that provide the pilot with the ability to switch from one set of information to another in coherence with the tactical situation that follows with the help of attached controls and upfront control panel.

Ease of Maintainance

Maintaining a fighter squadron can be both a joy and a pain depending on the type of system being maintained. PAF was no exception to this and in designing JF-17, special attention was paid to keep maintenance exceptionally low and the aircraft incredibly quick on the turn time. The best part of maintaining the JF-17 aircraft is that it is modular it has a direct bearing in reducing the turnaround time of the aircraft to one of the lowest in the industry. All it requires is just one man to maintain that problem.

The JF-17 incorporates 15:53 and 1760 data bus architecture. Its complete avionics suite is based upon the dual and quad redundant console. It has a capacity of 100% every ONYX upgrade for future requirements. In record time JF-17 has been able to take on some of the most difficult challenges that it has ever been put up against.

JF-17 Thunder

Fuel System

Internal fuel tanks with a capacity of 2,330 kg (5,140 lb) are housed in the wings and fuselage and are refueled using a single-point pressure refueling system. External fuel tanks may be used to replace internal fuel storage. On the aircraft’s centerline hardpoint under the fuselage, one 800-liter (180 imp gal) drop tank can be fitted, and two 800-liter or 1,110-litre (240 imp gal) drop tanks can be mounted on the two inboard under-wing hardpoints.

The weapon system

The weapons package of JF-17 is truly impressive and allows it to deal with evolving situations rapidly and effectively. The JF-17 can carry up to 4,325 kg (9,535 lb) of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry, as well as other gear fixed on the aircraft’s seven hardpoints. One hardpoint is found between the main landing gear and the fuselage, two are under each wing, and one is at each wingtip. The Stores Management System[22], which is capable of integration with weapons of any origin, communicates with all seven hardpoints through a MIL-STD-1760 data-bus architecture.

The aircraft is fitted with a modern Stores Management System incorporating accurate weapon delivery modes and solutions involving minimum pilot workload. The aircraft is capable of carrying some of the most modern as well as conventional weapons, including:

  • 70-100 Km range beyond visual range active missiles
  • Highly agile Imaging infrared short-range missiles
  • Air to sea missiles
  • Anti-radiation missiles
  • Laser-guided weapons
  • Runway penetration bombs
  • General-purpose bombs
  • Training bombs
  • 23 mm double-barrel gun
JF-17 Thunder

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