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.