JF-17 Thunder Update – 2014

Inducted in the PAF as a medium-tech combat aircraft in 2010, the JF-17 Thunder’s production has been gathering pace ever since the launch of the Block-2 standard aircraft on 18th Dec 2013. Significant improvements have been incorporated in the ‘Block-II’ variant such as a more powerful radar (KLJ-7 V2),  improved electronics package (EW pods and enhanced sensors), enhanced databus for launch of Precision-Guided-Munitions (PGM – also known as Laser-Guided-Bombs) and long range/stand-off weapons such as the Glide-guided-bomb (LS-6), strengthened wing roots to carry an additional load of up to 3000lbs and last but not the least, the only prominent external add-on; the air-to-air refueling probe (for increased range and loiter time for Combat Air Patrols).

In the recent edition of Zhuhai Air Show 2014, China, CATIC had displayed an array of new weaponry for the JF-17. As compared to the weapons package that was put on display in the previous edition, it seems clear that the PAF, which has invested a heavy capital and human resource over the last decade, wants to get ‘a lot more’ out of the Thunder Programme. The LS-6 Glide-guided-bomb, PL-5EII SRAAM, SD-10 BVRAAM, MAR-1 ARM and C-802 Anti-Ship missile, all have been tested and configured with the JF-17. Weapon testing of CM-400AKG; a 900kg Stand-Off-Missile (SOM) with an impressive range of 180 -250 km is already underway in China.

JF-17 at Zhuhai Air Show 2014, China, CATIC

JF-17 at Zhuhai Air Show 2014, China, CATIC

Weapons package of the JF-17 on display at Zhuhai Airshow 2014. Of prominence are C-802AK Anti-Ship missile (first picture – above ), GB-600 Stand-Off-Weapon (SOW) and C-102 Anti-Radiation Missile. CM-102 is a Anti-Radar Missile with range of 100km. It has high hit accuracy and a 80kg warhead. PAF has already inducted the Brazillian origin MAR-1 ARM for its JF-17 fleet.

-17 Block-II with in-flight refueling probe.

Artistic impression of JF-17 Block-II with in-flight refueling probe. The aircraft is equipped with GBU-12 LGBs and  WMD-7 Pod on centerline station with CCS marking.

Artistic impression of the JF-17 Block-II formation employing 500kg GB-6 SOW

Artistic impression of the JF-17 Block-II formation employing 500kg GB-6 SOW. GB-6 is a 500kg bomb guided with GPS/INS system. It can be used for large-scale ground targets such as vital enemy installations.

Extending the reach:

Among the only major external improvement in the Block-II standard JF-17 is the addition of an in-flight aerial refueling probe. Integration and testing work is underway at PAC (where the air-to-air refueling probe is being integrated on the starboard side of the fuselage just behind the canopy) with joint-collaboration from a South African company.  This modification shall help the JF-17 extend its range and increase its on-station time by air-air-refueling with IL-78 tankers, already in service with PAF.

Two JF-17s are being used as test beds for in-flight-refueling probes. The flight trials with IL-78 tanker are scheduled in the first half of 2015.

More Thunder inductions:

Since its formal induction in the PAF in February 2010, JF-17 has been extensively used in air-defence and fighter-training roles. As the aircraft is maturing into a potent platform with no outside ‘political strings’ attached, the PAF is at a leisure to phase-out its aging fleet of Mirage and F-7 aircraft.

PAF shall receive the long-awaited third squadron of JF-17s end of December. This time the Thunder will join the elite faculty of Combat Commanders School (CCS) where it will replace the F-7 CCS squadron. Formerly known as the Fighter Leaders School (FLS) in the late-1950s, with the expansion and modernization of the PAF there was a need felt to have a specialized institution where experienced fighter pilots could be trained not only as instructors to supervise the training programme of fighter squadrons but also to provide combat leadership in the air. In 1976 FLS was renamed Combat Commanders School (CCS) with a mission to go beyond the stated aims and objectives at the time.  Hence, the roadmap of providing fighter pilots with comprehensive courses in combat leadership and advanced fighter tactics got underway.

With two Thunder Squadron’s already operational (No.26 ‘Black Spiders’ and No.16 ‘Black Panthers’), having a CCS JF-17 Squadron as the third unit to equip the type makes sense and fits the bill for two reasons; Firstly, while the two operational squadrons can focus on ‘polishing’ their pilot skills in the air-to-air and air-to-ground arena, the advanced concepts and tactics which will be validated from the CCS’s Thunder Sqn can then be propagated professionally among the other Thunder Squadrons. Secondly, another major role of the CCS is of conducting weapons trials and surveys.

As the Chief of Air Staff ACM Tahir R Butt was quoted in Flight International (July 2014 issue – interviewed by a British military-aviation journalist Alan Warnes):

“I felt it was too much for a squadron to expect them to be operational, train pilots, visit air shows and do testing, so i split it.”

“These aircraft will bring us newer capabilities with different weapons,” Tahir says. Once the weapons testing parameters are achieved and become operationally ‘fit’ they will be incorporated into the PAF’s combat doctrine and thus help in ensuring the Thunder takes on the same role as that of the F-16, of becoming a true multi-role combat aircraft for the PAF.

CCS Mirage-III taking off from Mushaf AB

CCS Mirage-III taking off from Mushaf AB for Exercise Saffron Bandit (2013). CCS Mirages and F-7s wear high-visibility markings and have a sword painted below the canopy.

CCS bids farewell to F-6 aircraft.

CCS bids farewell to F-6 aircraft. F-7P with modern avionics and chaff/flares dispensers was inducted in the faculty in early 1993.

JF-17 Serial # 13-149 (the second last JF-17 built from first batch of 50 aircraft)

JF-17 Serial # 13-149 (the second last JF-17 built from first batch of 50 aircraft) departs Minhas Air Base for Functional Check Flight (FCF) in July 2013. The entire Block-1 production fleet of JF-17s will be upgraded in phases and brought on par with the Block-2 standard.

JF-17 leads a formation of Mirage-VEF, F-7PG, J-10 (PLAAF) and J-7E (PLAAF) aircraft in Exercise Shaheen-III

JF-17 leads a formation of Mirage-VEF, F-7PG, J-10 (PLAAF) and J-7E (PLAAF) aircraft in Exercise Shaheen-III at PAF Base Rafiqui, May 2014.

Pair of CCS F-7s prepare to taxi for Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) with No.11 Sqn F-16s.

Pair of CCS F-7s prepare to taxi for Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT)

Pair of CCS F-7s prepare to taxi for Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) with No.11 Sqn F-16s.

JF-17 Thunder’s Weapon load

JF-17 Thunder – All round view                                         Chapter 8 : JF-17 Thunder’s Weapon Load

JF-17 configuration of weapon load:

jf-17_thunder_mission_load

JF-17 Weapon load

Weapons Rails/Hard Points:

JF-17 Thunder has seven hard points.

JF-17 Thunder has seven hard points for carrying external weapons/fuel tanks. One is on each wing tip, two under each wing and one under belly.

Pylons attachments areas marked on the upper side on wings.

Pylons attachments areas marked on the upper side on wings.

jf-17_thunder_weapon_pylons_1.jpg

JF-17’s pylon 1,2 and 6,7 are mainly used for carrying air-air missiles. JF-17 can carry two AIM-9L Sidewinders or PL-5E II Short Range Air to Air Missiles (SRAAM) on wingtip pylons (pylon 1/2) and four SD-10A Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missiles (BVRAAM) on multi ejectors racks attached on pylon 6/7. Pylon 6/7 can also carry mission pods including WMD-7 Optical targeting pod and KG-300 Electronic Warfare pod.

jf-17_thunder_pylon_5-6_fuel

JF-17’s pylon 3 and 5 with various pins for locking, security and jettissioning attached weapons/fuel stations. It can carry 1000+ Kg of weapons which include Mk-82/84 dumb bombs, LT-2/GBU-10/12 Laser Guided bombs (LGB), various classes of LS-6 gluide guided bombs, C-802 Anti-Shipping Missile (ASM) and  H-2/4 Stand-Off Weapon (SOW), Ra’ad Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) in the future.

jf-17_thunder_pylon_5-6_fuel_tank_marking jf-17_thunder_izmir_air_show_2011_wing

JF-17’s pylon 3 and 5 is mainly used for carrying 1100 L fuel tanks. In the left photo; High-visibility markings in both English and Chinese language for ground crew.

jf-17_thunder_fuel_tanks_center_line

JF-17’s pylon 4 is mainly used for carrying 800 L fuel tank. It can also be used to carry up to 2000lbs (1000kg+) of munitions.

External fuel stations

jf-17_thunder_take_off_three_fuel_tanks

JF-17 can carry three external fuel tanks (2x 1100 L under wing and 1X 800 L centerline fuel tank) both Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground role.

The maximum range (3,000km) in a High-High-High mission profile is achieved in the following configuration:

–          Stores: 2 x PL-5E II SRAAM + 2 x SD-10A MRAAM + 2 x 1100 L tank + 800 L tank.

The maximum range (1,200km) in a Medium-Low-Low-High mission profile is achieved in the following configuration:

–          Stores: 2 x PL-5E II SRAAM + 4 x 250kg bomb + 2 x 1100 L tank + 800 L tank.

Weapon load case studies

jf-17_thunder_izmir_airshow_specs_chart

 

Characteristics / specification chart of JF-17 on the static display at Izmir during the Centenary Celebrations of Turkish Air Show 2011.

JF-17 has a maximum take-off weight 27,336 lb (12,400kg), maximum external stores weight of 8820lbs (4,000kg)

Weapon Length Diameter Weight
WMD-7 pod 2.700 m 0.390 m 280 kg
C-802A 6.392 m 36 cm 715 kg
Ra’ad ALCM 4.85 m 1100 kg
H-2/4 SOW 3650 mm 38 cm H-4: 1200 kgH-2: 980 kg (2,160 lb)
MK-82 bomb 87.4 inches (2,220 mm) 10.75 inches (273 mm) 227 kg (500 lb)
MK-84 bomb 129 in (3280 mm) 18 in (458 mm) 925 kg (2039 lb)
LT-2 3580mm 380mm 570kg
LT-3 3.58m 0.38 m 564 kg
LS-6 (500 kg) 300mm 377mm 540kg
PL-5E SRAAM 2.893m 0.127m 83kg
SD-10A MRAAM 3,850mm 203mm 180kg
AIM-9L Sidewinder 2850 mm 127mm 85.3kg
MAR-1 ARM 4.03 metres (13.2 ft) 0.23 metres (0.75 ft) 274 kilograms (600 lb)

 

According to Chief Designer of JF-17 at Dubai Air Show 2011, 3 pylons of JF-17 can carry a total of 4,000+ kg of weapon load.

Considering a JF-17 equipped with:

Case-1

4x SD-10 MRAAM on under-wing Multi Ejector Racks (Total Weight 900 kg)

2xPL-5E SRAAM on wingtips (Total Weight 170 kg)

1×800 Litre centerline fuel tank (Total Weight 648 kg) + 40kg(tank weight)  = 690kg

2×1100 Litre droptanks on inner wing pylons (Total Weight 1782 kg) 1782+ 120kg(tanks weight) =1900kg

Total weight= 900+170+690+1900 = 3660kg

Case-2

4x SD-10 MRAAM on under-wing Multi Ejector Racks (Total Weight 900 kg) [100kg for rack weight]

2xPL-5E SRAAM on wingtips (Total Weight 170 kg)

1×800 Litre centerline fuel tank (Total Weight 648 kg) + 40kg (tank weight)  = 690kg

2x 1100kg Ra’ad ALCM on inner wing pylons (Total Weight 2200 kg)

OR

2x 1200kg H-4 SOW on inner wing pylons (Total Weight 2400 kg)

OR

2x980kg H-2 SOW on inner wing pylons (Total Weight 1960 kg)

Total weight= 900+170+690+2200 = 3960kg (Ra’ad)

Total weight= 900+170+690+2400 = 4160kg (H-4)

Total weight= 900+170+690+1960 =3720 (H-2)

 Case-3

4x SD-10 MRAAM on under-wing Multi Ejector Racks (Total Weight 900 kg)

2xPL-5E SRAAM on wingtips (Total Weight 170 kg)

2x 925 kg Mk-84 Laser Guided Bomb (LGB) on inner wing pylons (Total weight 2000 kg) [1850kg +150kg for LGB kit]

1x 280 kg WMD-7 Targeting pod on centerline station = 280kg

Total weight= 900+170+2000 = 3070 kg

Weapons

jf-17_thunder_sd-10_bvr_mssile_ls-6_bomb

SD-10A Medium Range Air to Air Missiles on multi-ejector racks and LS-6, 500kg glide bomb. LS-6 has a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of less than 15m.

jf-17_thunder_c802_ashm_missile

C-802A anti-shipping missile has a range of 180km. Its flight trials with JF-17 Thunder were conducted in November 2011.

jf-17_thunder_wmd_7_electro_optic_targeting_pod

WMD-7 is an Electro-Optic targeting with infrared, TV and laser sensor. It can search, track and identify targets during both day and night.  In IR detection mode it can detect targets at 20km range, where as it can successfully identity them from 15km. The TV mode gives 22km target detection and target 17km identification features.

jf-17_thunder_kg_300_jammer_ew_pod

KG-300 Airborne Self-Protection Jamming pod is a stand-alone system carried on under wing or center line station. KG-300 provides multi-target electronic jamming, multi-signal parameter measurement, deception and other counter enemy radar features to the aircraft.

jf-17_thunder_mark-84_high_mark2010 jf-17_thunder_mark-82_high_mark2010

JF-17s equipped with 2000lbs Mk-84 and 500lbs Mk-82 bombs during Exercise High Mark 2010.

jf-17_thunder_mk-82 bomb_1000l_fuel_tanks_pl-5e_sraam

JF-17 Protoype-4 during weapon load testing in early 2009. The aircraft is equipped with 4x Mk-82 bombs, 3x 1000L fuel tanks and 2xPL-5E II SRAAM.

jf-17_thunder_pt-06_sd-10a_bvr_missile

JF-17 Protoype-6, dedicated for Chinese weapon integration and avionics testing equipped with SD-10 MRAAM. SD-10’s ‘live weapon’ firing trials were conducted on same aircraft in 2011.

MAR-1 air-to-ground Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM)

MAR-1 is an air-to-ground Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM) developed by Brazil’s Mectron Corp and the Aerospace Technology and Science Department of Brazilian Air Force. MAR-1 introduced in 2008 is a designed to perform in Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) role. It has various modes for high and low altitude radar. MAR-1 is believed to be potent weapon and enemy Surface-to-Air-Missile (SAM) radar. Its range is cited as 60 to 100 km with 90 kilograms (200 lb) warhead. PAF bought $108 million worth 100 MAR-1 missiles for JF-17 and Mirage-III/V aircraft in 2008. The missile was made operational with JF-17 in late 2011.

JF-17 Thunder Electro Optic pod

China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) JF-17 Prototype-6 seen in April ’2012 in Chendu flight center with electro-optical navigation pod.

jf-17_thunder_raptor_1_h-2_jsow_missile

Kentron  (South Africa) built Raptor-I/H-2 Stand Off Weapon (SOW), is a lethal TV-guided glide bomb produced under license by Air Weapons Comlpex (AWC), Pakistan.  H-2 can strike a target upto 60 km (37.5 miles). H-2 has a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of 3m, hardened nose and timed fuse giving it the capability to penetrate Hardened Air Shelters (HAS) before explosion. Raptor-II/H-4 SOW is improved version of its predecessor with rocket motor and improved strike range (120km).

jf-17_thunder_mark_mk84_bomb_sd-10

A JF-17 model with its armory. The inner pylons are carrying 2x 2000lbs GBU-10 LGBs.

 jf-17_thunder_gbu_500kg_lt-2_bomb.jpg

Seen above; LT-2, a 570kg LGB. LT-2 bomb comes in both 500kg and 1000kg versions.

jf-17_thunder_lt-2_lt-3_gbu-500-kg

LT-2 and LT-3, the latter is 564kg precision guided bomb with a range of 24km. LT-3 is similar to US GBU-54/55/56(V)/B Laser JDAM (LJDAM) weapons.

Illustrations and Art-Work

LS-6 Precision Guided Glide Bomb

LS-6 Precision Guided Glide Bomb

C-802 Anti-Shipping Missile

JF-17 Thunder C-802 Anti-Shipping Missile

MAR-1 Anti Radiation Missile

JF-17 Thunder MAR-1 Anti Radiation Missile

Hafr Runway Penetration Bomb

jf-17_thunder_hafr_runway_bomb_load

H-2/4 Stand-Off Weapon 

jf-17_thunder_h4_weapon_load

Ra’ad Air Launched Cruise Missile

jf-17_thunder_raad_load

GBU-12 Laser Guided Bomb and WMD-7 Electro Optic Targeting pod

jf-17_thunder_wmd_7_electro_optic_targeting_pod_loaded

References:

http://premierspacesystems.com/Aircraft.html

Centerline External Fuel Tank –4 90 liters   (130 US Gal) {395 kg, or 870 lb when full}

Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_fuel says 0.8075 kg/L
This source http://www.experimentalaircraft.info/homebuilt-aircraft/aviation-fuel-1.php says 0.81 kg/L or 6.76 lb/US gallon, or API density 44.3°.