The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has rolled out the first set of JF-17 Block III standard fighter aircraft from its Kamra facility on Tuesday. A total of 11 airframes were set on the lineup and will be soon handed over for trials before being inducted by the Air Force.
All the airframes were produced between December 2020 to December 2021. The Pakistan Air Force is committed to acquiring at least 50 factory-fresh units before proceeding to upgrade the present fleet of Block 2-spec JF-17A and JF-17B.
Block 3, being the latest standard of the JF-17 family, offers a lot of enhancements over the preceding versions. The primary elements include the replacement of KLJ-7v2 Pulse-Doppler radar to an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which avails the compatibility to deploy new-generation PL-15 active radar homing Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVR-AAM) and PL-10 Imaging InfraRed (IIR) Close Combat Missile (CCM). Notably, the PL-15 is stated to have a range of about 200-300 kilometers, which might provide the JF-17 an edge over its likely adversaries in South Asia.
The aircraft also received upgradation in the avionics suite, which involves the integration of a new wide-area Heads-Up Display (HUD), Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) system, and more. Also noteworthy is the new three-axis digital Fly By Wire (FBW) control system.
With a vision to maintain the power balance in the region by procuring equivalent aircraft to its arch-rival India, Islamabad is convinced to have an aerospace sector that produces aircraft indigenously. PAF at present operates more than 130 units of the type. In the past, JF-17 was also utilized during operations against militants in the west and very recently, against India in 2019 air skirmishes over Kashmir.It is also recently confirmed that PAF will acquire J-10CE aircraft within three years. The present number given is around 25 airframes that will also take part on March 23 Resolution Day flypast. The new aircraft will complement the PAF fleet of modern 4th generation fighters and maintain the operational readiness of the force to deal with contemporary threats, which primarily includes countering India’s Rafale acquisition that is termed “gamechanger” for the airpower status in the subcontinent.