Pakistan has officially initiated the manufacturing of the more advanced variant of JF-17B thunder aircraft, also known as 4.5 generation Block III. According to officials of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), the aircraft will have more capacity than India’s Rafale jet, which they acquired in the mid of last year from France. The Air Chief of Pakistan at the inauguration ceremony said that the JF-17 thunder is a reliable aircraft, indicating its contribution in Operation swift retort, when Indian aircraft intruded the sovereignty of Pakistan on February 27, 2019.
The aircraft JF-17 thunder is a joint product of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China. It makes its first flight in 2003 and then China delivers its first eight jets to Pakistan in 2007-2008. In 2015, Pakistan was possessing sixty aircraft and in 2020, its number increase to 135 and has placed an order for 64 more aircraft. It is estimated that PAF is expected to acquire more than 250 aircraft to overcome its requirements. The Jet has also been exported to Myanmar and Nigeria. It is one of the leading aircraft that the Pakistan Air Force have, after the United States banned the sales of the Jet F-16, under the Pressler amendment and the aging of other combating Jets such as A-5C, F-7P/PG, Mirage III, and Mirage V.
JF-17 is a multi-functional aircraft that can operate in day/night combating, it carries attacks from air to air and from air to surface. In addition to that, it can be interceptor; information can be acquired through aerial reconnaissance; it can suppress the enemy defense system, can do anti-ship strikes, and in a very tense situation, nuclear deterrence. New features should be added to the new variant of JF-17, as stated by Pakistani officials. In Block III, a new radar will be installed and the Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities will be enhanced. Electronic warfare involves electromagnetic spectrum like infrared or radar, radio sensing, protecting, and communicating, and it does not allow the enemies to use or disrupt these signals. Maqsood Akhtar, a retired officer of PAF reiterated that the Block III will be a fourth-generation aircraft by possessing electronically secondary radar as well as a better missile system.
While Pakistan official has said that the Block 3 will be better from India’s Rafale, but there are certain points which differentiate Rafale from JF-17. These differences are, the engine of Rafale is twin whereas JF-17 has a single Engine.JF-17 is a multi-role aircraft that perform a specific function while Rafales are Omni-role Jet, which can do any function in the air. The weight of JF-17 is lighter than the weight of Rafales, which indicates that Rafales can carry more fuel and ammunition than JF-17. Rafales can attain a speed of 2,222.6 km per hour, on the other hand, the maximum speed of JF-17 is 1975.68 km/ hour.
By starting working on the new variant Pakistan wants to conserve the balance in the region, most importantly with India. India in the recent past get hold of Rafale aircraft and have deployed eight aircraft near the Pakistan border in Ambala Air Force base in India. India is expected to buy 36 more “Rafale Jet” in 2022. Pakistan doesn’t want to be behind in the race as its officials are reiterating that they will retaliate whenever India tries to Intrude on its sovereignty.