Pakistan’s JF-17 “Thunder” which was touted as a low-cost, light-weight, all-weather multi-role fighter with a Chinese airframe, has turned into a liability for Islamabad,
owing to its high operations and maintenance cost as compared to the modern weaponry systems.
In 1999, Pakistan and China had signed an agreement to jointly develop and produce the JF-17
“Thunder” and share the development cost. Pakistan believed that the fighter would match the standards of Su-30MKI, Mig-29, and Mirage-2000. It was meant to be “equipped with Western avionics and powered by the Russian Klimov RD 93 aero-engine”.
However, a Pentapostagma report states that the aircraft’s capability is judged by the avionics, weapons, and engine equipping it and the JF-17 fails to hit the mark in most areas.
Massive screw-ups of JF-17
While attempting to retaliate against India’s airstrike on a Pakistani terrorist group
on February 27, 2019, the JF-17 had performed poorly against IAF Mirage-2000 and SU-30s.
Touted to be the “next best Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fighter after the F-16,” its extremely low endurance, poor accuracy, and low weapon carrying capability were amply
demonstrated in February 2019, when all its Range Extension Kit (REK) bombs failed to hit the target in the face of effective jamming and attacks by Indian fighters, it said.
The critical parts of the JF-17 avionics, KLJ-7 Al radar, and Weapon Mission Management Computer, both face several problems. While the KLJ-7 radar shows poor performance and faces several operational
and maintenance problems, the WMMC has limited capacity, with a high rate of failure of various modules, including the Main Computer module.
The root cause of the
JF-17’s poor performance is the use of a single Russian RD-93 engine, which is known for its poor functions. Other problems of the fighter jet include “Nose Landing Gear shimmies while taxing and a number of aircraft experience nose wheel vibrations”.
Besides, the ventral trails were also found cracked indicating poor metallurgy or design.
Pakistan now opts for China’s J-10 fighter
According to Pentapostagma, Pakistan is now eyeing China’s J-10 fighter, which is cheaper at its purported price of USD 25 million each. However, the depreciation of the Pak Rupee at almost 30% will make the purchase of aircraft
an expensive affair for Islamabad.
As the Pakistan government struggles to shore up its financial situation, any new customers of the JF-17 will find it difficult to get the material
and spares support that Islamabad needs to procure from China.
06 Mar 21/Saturday Source: republicworld