JF-17 Thunder: A Customized Multirole fighter

International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2012 has recently ended at Expo Centre, Karachi. This 7th edition of the exhibition is held after a delay of four years. Many new investors have made their way to this exhibition. Weapons, ammunition, C4ISR systems, engineering, logistics and naval equipment are categorized in nine different categories.

IDEAS give an ideal platform to manufactures of weapon systems, ammunition, logistics to present their systems to their potential customers and Pakistani defence organizations at large. This five-day event has showcased military related equipment from 209 firms; including 135 foreign and 74 Pakistani firms. Delegations from over 80 countries around the world have participated in this exhibition.

Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aircraft Industries Corporation (CAC) joint venture JF-17 Thunder is also displayed at IDEAS 2012 along with Super-Mushshak primary trainer and K-8 Advance Jet Trainer.
JF-17 Thunder is displayed with an array of air-to-ground weapons, successfully integrated and in operational service with PAF. Brazilian origin MAR-1 Anti-Radiation Missile, Chinese PL-5E Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (SRAAM), Hafr Runway Penetration Bomb (RPB) (Pakistani variant of MBDA Durandal) and U.S.-Origin Mk-82/84 General purpose bombs are also displayed in IDEAS 2012.

MAR-1 missile was integrated with JF-17 in the first half of 2011 and it was made operational in 2012. PL-5E II Air-to-Air missile, MK-82/84 bombs and Hafr RPB were also successfully integrated in 2010. Numerous bombing practice missions have also been conducted in past couple of years.

Unlike previous public appearances of JF-17 on air shows and defence exhibitions; this time no SD-10 Medium Range BVR missile, C-802 Anti-Shipping missile, WMD-7 Electro-Optic/IR targeting pod, KG-300 Electronic Warfare pod or LS-6 glide guided are displayed. One of the reasons is that Zhuahi Air Show 2012; which will be held from 13 to 18 November 2012 in China will be featuring the Chinese-origin air, land and sea attack weapons for JF-17 Thunder.

Over the years JF-17 has matured enough to form the backbone of PAF. Integration of various classes of weapons systems from different origins has increased its potential to multi-folds. The low-operating cost and smaller price tag gives JF-17 a significant edge of other fighters of its class; which deliver similar performance at a hefty price tag.

It is pertinent to mention here that JF-17 is a customized Multi-Role fighter for PAF. The weapons displayed and integrated with it so far are subjected to PAF’s Air Staff Requirements (ASR). There are many Western and Chinese origin weapons which are in process of integration or queued up for integration (if required by any customer). FC-1; the export version of JF-17 will incorporate Chinese origin avionics, Electronic Warfare suite and GPS/navigation technology. Modifications to meet any western origin aircraft design can be made; including integration of US origin AIM-9L Sidewinder missile, British origin Martin Baker Zero-Zero ejection seats and western origin GPS/navigation technology as well. Some of these aforementioned western origin changes are already done in PAF JF-17s.

As mentioned before, an array of weapons are queued up for integration with JF-17.
These weapons include Chinese origin CM-802 Stand-Off Weapon (SOW); land attack derivate of the C-802 (YJ-82) anti-ship missile with a range of 230km, Chinese origin CM-400 SOW; a super-sonic SOW with lethal penetration and fire-and-forget capability, South African Origin H-2 SOW (already in service with PAF Mirages since mid1990s) and Pakistani Hatf-VIII Ra’ad Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) capable of carrying both conventional and non-conventional warheads and possibly Chinese origin TL-500 SOW; newly showcased 500 kg SOW at Zhuhai Air Show 2012. Various classes of 250kg and 500kg glide guided bombs are also available for integration with JF-17. These include LT-3 (500kg glide bomb with foldable wings), LS-6 (500kg/250kg/100kg/50kg glide bomb) etc. Satellite/inertial guidance kits are also available for addition with 250kg/500kg general purpose bombs making them lethal precision guided bombs (similar to US JDAM) for a target of up to 60kms. FT-1/FT-2 guidance kits can be embarked upon 500kg/1,000lb bombs whereas FT-3/FT-4 satellite/inertial guidance kits can be employed on 250kg/500lb class general purpose bombs. These guidance tail kits are available in strap on folding wing kits and planar wing kits. Low drag bomb casing and steel penetrator warhead (for deep penetration in concrete structures like Hardened Air Shelters (HAS)) can also be employed.

A part from the aforementioned avionics and weapon load customization options available with JF-17 Thunder, there is one significant portion left un-discussed i.e.range and endurance of the aircraft. The first batch of 50 JF-17s for PAF has a combat radius of 1300km, which will be enhanced by introduction of Air-to-Air refuelling probe in the second batch. The take-off distance of 2,000ft (610m) and landing distance of 2,700ft (823m) makes JF-17 favourable aircraft for shorter-runway or road-landing operations.
China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) are marketing JF-17 as “cutting edge technology at an affordable cost” to small budget air forces operating Mig-21/J-7/Mig-29 and Mirage-III/V aircraft. No doubt that JF-17 delivers a hard hitting and complete solution with smaller operating cost and greater flexibility.


JF-17 Thunders lined up after arrival in China to participate in Zhuhai air show 2012.[Photo: www.chinanews.com]


JF-17 Thunder Serial no 09-111; the first JF-17 locally assembled in Pakistan, taking off from Peshawar Air Base. Over 40 of such aircraft are operational in service with PAF. PAF JF-17s are powered with RD-93 engine, capable of producing 79-98kN of thrust. WS-13; another potent engine undergoing flight trails at Chengdu flight center, China. WS-13 will be available for export version FC-1 aircraft in near future.

500 kg LT-3 precision guided bomb

500 kg LT-3 precision guided bomb with an effective range of up to 24km. It employs modular laser sensor kit similar to US origin GBU-54/55/56 Laser JDAM (LJDAM) weapons. [Photo: Air Power Australia, www.ausairpower.net]


Brochure of Chinese origin CM-400 SOW; a super-sonic SOW with lethal penetration and fire-and-forget capability displayed at Zhuhai air show 2012. The weapon is cited as one of the potential SOW for FC-1/JF-17 Thunder aircraft. [Photo: China.com, www.china.com]


Brochure of Chinese origin Chinese origin CM-802 Stand-Off Weapon (SOW); land attack derivate of the C-802 (YJ-82) anti-ship missile with a range of 230km displayed at Zhuhai air show 2012. According to Janes[i] PAF has shown interest in procuring this weapon for JF-17 Thunder. [Photo: China.com, www.china.com]


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. [Photo: Chinese Internet]

This article was published in The Frontier Post on November 13, 2012.



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 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’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’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’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 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



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:


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


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)


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


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)


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



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.


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


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.


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 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.


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).


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


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


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


H-2/4 Stand-Off Weapon 


Ra’ad Air Launched Cruise Missile


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




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°.

Black Spiders : Venomous Than Ever!

No.26 Squadron “Black Spiders” was the first squadron to be equipped with JF-17 Thunder in 2010. Being the first operational squadron with newly built JF-17 aircraft, 26 Sqn has various responsibilities that includepilot training and weapons testing.

Black Spiders have also participated in PAF’ s largest exercise “Exercise High Mark 2010” and joint exercise “Exercise Shaheen-I” with the PLAAF (Peoples Liberation Army Air Force) in 2011. 26 MR SqnJF-17s have also made their attendance in Farnborough International air show, U.K (2010), Zhuhai air show, China (2010) and Izmir air show, Turkey (2011).


No.26 MR Sqn “Black Spiders” pilots with their Officer Commanding Wng Cdr Khalid Mehmood.



JF-17 Thunder’s Threat warning system, tail housing & drogue chute

JF-17 Thunder – All round view                                         Chapter 6 : JF-17 Thunder’s Threat warning system, tail housing & drogue chute

Chaff and flare dispensers:

The chaffs are used against radar-guided threats, i.e. Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) or interceptor aircraft whereas the flares are for infrared threat and heat seeking missiles such as enemy aircraft or Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS). In JF-17, the Chaff/flare dispensers are located under the ventral fins. Around 100 chaffs/flares can be carried at one time. The chaff/flare load out depends upon mission planning (mainly mission type/formation/load out etc). Using 5-10 chaffs/flares in one bundle will increase their usage to up to 10 times.

Chaff/flare dispensers are visible just after the air brakes and before the engine exhaust. Inside the cockpit the threat management system is located in the left auxiliary panel which directly manages its usage.

The JF-17s delivered to PAF till 2008 had no chaff/flare dispensers installed in them. Seen in above photos a specially marked JF-17 (Sr.# 07-101) flying during 23rd March parade 2007 with no chaffs/flares installed and an operational No.16 Sqn JF-17 at Dubai Air show 2011 with visible signs of chaffs/flares box installation.

Tail housing of JF-17 Thunder:

The top of the tail housing contains Missile air warning sensors (MAWS), a navigational light, Ultra High Frequency (UHF) communication antenna and two electrostatic energy dispensers. MAWS are a part of self-defense electronic countermeasure system of the aircraft and work in collaboration with other sensors present in the frontal section of nose. The navigational light blinks repeatedly during landing and takeoffs.

Two electrostatic energy dispensers are visible on to top and rear bottom position of tail housing. They are used to disperse unwanted electricity to the air, which can cause problem in communication and navigation. A total of four similar electricity dischargers are also present on flaperons and horizontal stabilizers. These electricity dischargers deflect any lightning strike, making aircraft invulnerable to such extreme weather situations.

Present under the squadron emblem is the flight control & communication antenna, used to record flight control information from rudder, horizontal stabilizers and VHF/UHF communication.

Drogue chute section:

The rear tail section contains a drogue chute section, Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and tail navigational light. Inset photo; the outward curved portion with a circular center houses the RWR system. The drogue chute section contains a breaking parachute used to decrease aircraft airspeed during landing. A landing without use of drogue chute is also possible, but it will require minimum amount of thrust, low airspeed, timely braking and equally good handling techniques.

The bottom portion of the drogue chute section contains a door lock, which is used to add/remove drogue chute in it. Necessary air crew related warning messages are also written on it.

A JF-17 moments after deploying drogue chute. Note the opened drogue chute section with hollow space.

Another close up of the empty drogue chute section with opened drogue chute door. The drogue chute is automatically disconnected from the aircraft and drops on the runway. An “all time standby” drogue chute collector team picks it up soon before any other aircraft lands at the runway.

JF-17 Thunder’s Landing Gears, Engine, Air Brakes and Horizontal Stabilizers

JF-17 Thunder – All round view                                         Chapter 7 : JF-17 Thunder’s Landing Gears, Engine, Air Brakes and Horizontal Stabilizers

JF-17 Landing Gears:


Pictures of front landing gear of JF-17, the design is flexible enough to sustain hard landing with immense weapon load. Two large lights mounted on its top, enhances the pilot’s field of view during takeoff and landings at night.

Top Left and Right: View of Rear landing gears

Bottom Left: Close up of both rear landing gears designed to carry additional weight and to become helpful in making safe landing with high configuration of weapon load.

Bottom Right: Notice the position of landing gear boxes & gear doors. They are exact behind the air inlets, hence making no hurdles in airflow.

Air brakes:

JF-17 air brakes are located on each side of the rear fuselage section. These highly responsive air brakes are capable of stopping the aircraft within 825m.

The petals of JF-17 air brakes open in outward position, increasing the amount of drag which helps in decreasing airspeed.  The air brakes are controlled by the hydraulics system of the aircraft, which also controls the landing gear boxes.

Horizontal Stabilizers:

A close up view of the horizontal stabilizers of JF-17. Electricity dischargers can be seen on edges of horizontal stabilizers on both sides.

RD-93 Engine & exhaust:

JF-17 Thunder has a modified RD-33 engine capable of producing 79-98kN of thrust.

The inside view of RD-93 engine’s exhaust.  Note the afterburner detail and the shades of fuel burning generated on the outward areas of the exhaust.

Engines exhaust states:

The exhaust at the idle state with no or less power.

The exhaust contracts with considerable amount of power applied to the engine.

JF-17 Thunder on the takeoff roll.  The exhaust is at the final afterburner state, with maximum power. RD-93 produces 8795 kg (19,391 lb) of thrust. Another engine WS-13 is undergoing flight trails at Chengdu, it has greater probability of becoming a part of JF-17 in future.