Defence Day Air show 2015 – Fatima Jinnah Park Islamabad

To celebrate 50th anniversary of Pakistani armed forces victory of 1956 war, an  airshow was organised at  Fatima Jinnah Park, F-9, Islamabad. The day reminds us of professionalism and bravery of Pakistani soldiers to decimate enemy’s monstrous forces.

PAF in particular ensured air guards of Pakistani frontiers and despatched the enemy forces back from where they had come. The day also reminds us of those who went on missions – never to return.

F-9 Park airshow Summary:

1130hrs:  High Speed Run by Mirage-III
1132hrs: Super Mushshak aerobatics
1139hrs: Sherdils display
1148hrs: JF-17 Thunder, 26 Sqn
1155hrs: F-16 MLU, 9 Sqn
1202hrs: AS350 Écureuil aerobatics (Pak Army)                                                                                                                            [ All photos credits: Abid Khan]

C-130 & Alouette

No.6 Sqn C-130 (Callsign “Stranger12”) provided air surveillance of venue prior to the airshow. The aircraft was seen flying at altitude of 9000-10,000 ft. Alouette-III from Search-And-Rescue unit provided Metro-logical support.

Mirages Sonic Boom

Two low-level flying Mirage-IIIEL aircraft kicked off the airshow with a massive sonic boom followed by vertical High-G maneuver polished by released of flares. Both aircraft took the audience by surprise & faded away in less than 15 seconds.

 

 

Super MushshakSuper Mushshak (Serial # 97-6394) of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex showed its potential & maneuvering skills. PAC has exhibited the aircraft in various airshows in Middle East in the past; recently it participated in Bucharest International Air Show (BIAS) in Romania in June. The aircraft has cruising speed of 130kts (240km/hr) and comes with internationally reputed Dyon and Garmin cockpit instrumentation technology. Mushshak can carry weapons / bombs on six external stations and can also perform border patrol duties.

Sherdils - K-8 9- Sherdils from PAF Academy Risalpur brought colours to the airshow. The team showed their precise flying, sharp reflexes and exceptional piloting skills in maneuvering the aircraft in close formations. The team’s menu remained the same since its inception in 1974 i.e. line astern to diamond formation during a loop, then clover-leaf, steep turn, barrel roll and finally, the breath-taking bomb-burst. In Sherdils, 6 aircraft perform where as three aircraft perform the initial run-in and break-off in a linear bomburst over the venue.

JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's PridePakistan’s pride JF-17 Thunder (Serial # 09-111) flown by O/C 26 MR Sqn brought the WoW factor  to the airshow. The aircraft flew various fast passes, slow passes, fast rolls and inverted roll in its 7-min performance.

JF-17 Thunder has been inducted in 3 combat squadrons of PAF, with a 4th unit gearing up to receive this aircraft. The success of Pak-China JF-17 Thunder has brought an affordable Multi-Role combat aircraft not only to PAF but to many Middle Eastern & Asia countries who are looking for replacement of their combat fleet with state-of-the-art fighter aircraft. Recently Myanmar has signed at deal for purchase of one squadron of this aircraft.

F-16 Fighting FalconThe legendary F-16 Fighting Falcon flown by O/C No.9 MR Sqn stole the airshow with its breathtaking performance. The pilot exhibited aircraft’s maneuverability in tight turns, slow-speed pass. On the peak of display, the aircraft comes down to low level and performed max-performance turn…taking Islamabad by a storm!

 

As-350 Ecuriel, PAAFollowed by PAF performances were  AS350 Écureuil aerobatics of Pak Army Aviation wing and flight of Special Services Group (SSG) commandoes hanging from slings with AS-332 Super Puma aircraft. Motor-glider flight by PAF Academy Risalpur and para-trooping by special forces units of all three forces dropped from C-130 aircraft at about 10,000 ft brought more colours to the airshow.

( Click on photos to enlarge )

AS-332, PAA & SSGF-16 Fighting Falcon Super Mushshak, PAC Super Mushshak, PAC

Sherdils - K-8  Sherdils - K-8 Sherdils - K-8

Sherdils - K-8Sherdils - K-8 Sherdils - K-8 Sherdils - K-8

JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride JF-17 Thunder - Pakistan's Pride  F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting FalconF-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting FalconF-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon F-16 Fighting Falcon

 

 

JF-17 Block-2 Update from “The Thunder City”

Flying JF-17 Thunder over French skies in Paris Air Show for the first time was W/C Mian Usman Ali, Officer Commanding No.26 Sqn. The performance was 6th air display by PAF JF-17 overseas in an airshow.

Back in the country, PAF is ramping up its JF-17 production lines with over 60 units being made and 50 flying in air-defence-operations. The long awaited JF-17 Block-II has been under production since few months now and flying since Feb’15. The aircraft will be improved version of its previous Block in avionics, electronic warfare package, KLJ-7 V2 radar and in-flight-refueling system for enhanced range.

JF-17 Block II will also have improved data-bus for integration of BVR weapons and precision guided munitions. Improved weapons package for Block-II will prove to be the ‘real-punch’ in PAF’s arsenal. The weapon package will include CM-400 anti-shipping missile, CM-102 anti-radiation missile and variety of GPS/INS guided glide bombs.

JF-17 will have South African origin in-flight-refueling system; which is being implemented by integration of air refueling probe on starboard of the fuselage (behind the cockpit). Two aircraft from first batch (referred as Block-1) are upgraded for flight testing of the system; installation on Block-II aircraft will be conducted from 2016.

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JF-17 Serial 15-207 all set for T&E flight is one of the freshly painted Block-IIs in PAF paint scheme. Photo via Ibrahim Hashim

JF-17 Thunder Block-2 2P-04

JF-17 Block-II Serial 2P11 (15-211) undergoing structure build up at PAC. Photo via Ibrahim Hashim

JF-17 Thunder 10-126 & 2P11 Block-IIJF-17 Thunder 10-126

JF-17 Block-I serial 10-126 flanked by Block-IIs. In physical appearance not much difference exists in both Blocks but from avionics and electronics point-of-view the latter shall be improved machine. Photo via: Ibrahim Hashim

JF-17 Block-I Serial # 10-115 and Block-II Serial 2P04 (15-204) JF-17 Block-I Serial # 10-115 and Block-II Serial 2P04 (15-204) JF-17 Block-I Serial # 10-115 and Block-II Serial 2P04 (15-204)

Recent photos of JF-17 Block-I Serial # 10-115 and Block-II Serial 2P04 (15-204) parked under shed for ground testing at PAC, Kamra also known as “The Thunder city”. Since roll out of first JF-17 in 2009, PAC is now building 58% of the aircraft. Earlier most of the assemblies were ferried to Pakistan all the way from China. Photos via Ibrahim Hashim

JF-17 Parish airshow 2015

W/C Usman pushing JF-17 to limits during 51st Parish airshow 2015. The pilot crossed 8G limit on various occasions during the display. Photo via PAF

JF-17 Thunder SD-10 BVR & C-802 Anti-shipping missile load

JF-17 Thunder from No.16 Sqn “Black Panthers” seen with a massive load of SD-10 Beyond Visual Range Missile (BVR), PL-5E II Air-Air Missile and C-802 Anti-Ship Missile. The integration of C-802 missile has been completed and the aircraft is all set to replace Masroor Air Base based No.2 Sqn F-7s in Maritime support role. Photo via PAF

F-7 No.2 Sqn “Minhas” F-7 No.2 Sqn “Minhas”

F-7s from No.2 Sqn “Minhas” seen at an operational base during Exercise Saffron Bandit 2011. The unit has been operating the type since August 1990. All aircraft in Minhas squadron are configured with corrosion resistant WP-7C engines for operations over Arabian sea and coastal areas. With Induction of JF-17 in this unit, PAF shall be able to defend its southern skies and coastal belt in more efficient way.

 

Pictures on JF-17 induction in CCS – 26-Jan-2015

PAF has recently inducted JF-17 in its aggressor’s unit “Combat Commanders School”. In first batch a mix of new & fairly old air frames (five initially) are transferred  from No.16 & No.26 Sqn. The newly raised CCS JF-17 unit shall perform along with CCS Mirage & CCS F-7 for sometime; later on CCS F-7 shall be morphed in CCS JF-17.

Aircraft Serial/Original unit

10-120                               26 Sqn
11-130                               16 Sqn
12-141                               26 Sqn
10-125                               16 Sqn
10-117                               26 Sqn

jf-17_thunder_ccs_combat_school_01 jf-17_thunder_ccs_combat_school_03 jf-17_thunder_ccs_combat_school_03
JF-17 serial No.s 10-120 & 12-141 landing at its new home Mushaf Air Base, Sargodha, Both aircraft are transferred from No.26 Sqn and shall be receiving new paint markings for CCS.

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Five JF-17s lined up with CCS Mirage & CCS F-7 after arriving at Mushaf for formal induction ceremony in CCS.

jf-17_thunder_no_16_sqn_ccs_combat_school_induction_ceremony_cake jf-17_thunder_no_16_sqn_ccs_combat_school_pilots_induction_ceremony_01 jf-17_thunder_no_16_sqn_ccs_combat_school_pilots_induction_ceremony_02
JF-17 pilots group photo with DCAS Ops Air Marshal Sohail  Aman, Base Cdr Mushaf and other senior PAF officers. The specially made cake (left most photo) was cut on the event; the cake is made similar to CCS patch (also worn by pilots in the group photo).

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JF-17 Thunder inducted in Combat Commanders School

Yesterday PAF has inducted JF-17 in its third operational squadron. The ceremony was conducted at PAF Base Mushaf, Sargodha “the home of Falcons” and saw induction of JF-17 in PAF’s topgun school “Combat Commanders School”. JF-17 induction in CCS point to that fact that PAF wants this aircraft become mature & thoroughly tested in advance tactical flight scenarios. In CCS; a part from advance tactics and flying JF-17 shall  also be perfoming weapons integration trials for new weapons for PAF.

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A specially made cake for the event.

 

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Flight lines of recently arrived JF-17 from No.16 Sqn. More aircraft shall join the unit in coming weeks.

 

Read More on JF-17 update on our blog post dated Dec 16, 2014.

http://pafwallpapers.com/blog/2014/12/jf-17-thunder-update-2014/

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: 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.

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

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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]

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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]

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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]

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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.

 

 

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).

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

 

 

Kamra base attack: some thoughts

On the night of August 15 and the Holy night of 27th Ramadan a bunch of militants pounded the heart of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Base Minhas situated at Kamra, this is also the place where Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) a leading aviation and defence production centre of Pakistanis located.

The intruders were not just a bunch of well trained, twisted-minded terrorists who could jump in the fire for fun. Neither was it a random attack by suicide bombers with loads of ammunition in their backpacks. It was deliberate and well-planned attack that was precisely executed and skilfully targeted. Unlike most of the earlier attacks on Pakistani forces the targets were not the soldiers.

The terrorists adopted the same mission profile they used in attack on PNS Mehran at Karachi on 22 May 2011, in which terrorists took advantage of civilian populated section of the base, using night as a cover, military uniforms for deception, lethal and automatic weapons like Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) for quick and precise attack. They were aided by modern equipment like Night Vision Goggles (NVG) for better situational awareness at night. Furthermore, this time terrorists took the advantage of strategic surprise by attacking on the Holy night of 27 Ramadan…any practicing Muslim would have been praying that night. Arabs did the same with the Israelis in the Yom Kippur War 1973. Attack on Yom Kippur, an important religious day for Jews, caught the Israeli forces by surprise and the advancing Arab forces accrued great advantage from this tactic.
The Kamra attack raises two major questions: why Minhas Air Force Base (AFB)? And why attack air surveillance systems only?

Minhas AFB is one of the most important air bases of PAF. The major part of the geographic location is shared by PAC, which comprises of four factories i.e. Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF), Avionics Production Factory (APF), Mirage Rebuild Factory (MRF) and Aircraft Rebuild Factory (ARF). These factories build, repair and overhaul major weapons systems of PAF including JF-17 Thunder, Mirage-III/V, F-7P/PG, K-8, Mushshak/Super Mushshak aircraft, low-level and high-level radar systems and engine overhaul of C-130, Y-12 and Boeing-777 aircraft.

Minhas AFB is home to two operational fighter squadrons (namely No.14 squadron equipped with Chinese F-7P aircraft and No.16 squadron with Pak-China JF-17 Thunder aircraft), a Search and Rescue Squadron with Alouette-III helicopters and an air-surveillance squadron comprising of Saab-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AEW&C). Some C-130 transport aircraft and IL-78 Multirole tanker and transport aircraft are also stationed on the base.

Minhas AFB is located near densely populated city of Attock. Back in 1974, it was amongst the lowest populated areas of the district Attock. Today various villages are situated in the outskirts of the base…For reader’s interest; the main road of PAC (on which all four factories are located) was fully open to public till the suicide attack on the road of the base in late 2007.

All these reasons made Minhas AFB the prized target for terrorists. Now coming to the second question i.e. why attack air surveillance systems only?
As mentioned in the beginning of this article that the terrorists adopted mission profile used in attack on PNS Mehran, in which RPG were fired on P-3 Orion Maritime Surveillance Aircraft. That resulted in complete destruction of two of such systems and one Sea King Helicopter as well.

Just like P-3 Orions of Pak Navy (PN), Saab-2000 AEW&C aircraft are very expensive, long range air-surveillance systems. The Saab-2000 AEW&C has a range of up to 450km. It can provide battlefield picture, information about enemy targets (in air, land or sea), enhance situation awareness of combat fleet of PAF by sharing target information. Also, it can continuously remain in the air for a very long period of time.

Saab-2000 AEW&C is not a system to be used in on-going fight in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA). It is an India-centric system. The long-range, high-endurance and deep radar coverage capability of Saab-2000 AEW&C can challenge India’s air superiority in the region. This aircraft is a part of Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) network centric system of PAF. For India, achieving air-superiority without getting the best of such air surveillance systems is not possible. Air battles of today and future will not entirely rely on well-equipped fighter units penetrating enemy air space. The network centric system of war, which includes AEW&C systems sharing battlefield information with fighter units, ground units and battleships will form the order of battle. Now, AEW&C systems are not much of a threat for militants. The question to ponder upon is: are the terrorists attacking Pakistan’s AEW&C and surveillance systems at the behest of another country? This takes state sponsoring of terrorism at a whole new level. It is a manifestation of sub-conventional warfare. What would Pakistani decision-makers do to counter this strategic nightmare? My sense is that they will have to go to whatever limits they consider essential, in their threat perception.

To address these challenges, Pakistani armed forces have to beef up the security of its military installations. Particularly, all those bases with force multiplier systems and air-surveillance systems should be given extra security. All those military bases with residential areas in their outskirts need to be monitored on routinely basis. One must complement the Air Force for a job very well done, as there is no room for complacency. In the present on-going security situation we cannot be relaxed at any given time. Multi-layered security should be made possible in all areas of bases…One thing is for sure, the attackers don’t use the front door anymore.
God bless Pakistan. Amen

A slightly different version of this article was published in The Express Tribune, August 19, 2012. Link

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.