JF in JF 17 stands for Joint Fighter. JF 17 thunder is formed by a collaborative effort of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Chengdu Air Craft corporation. It is a lightweight, single-Engine multi-role 4+ generation combat Aircraft. JF 17 is made on the block building approach which means it can be upgraded by time and new technologies can be embedded in it. The block3 version of JF 17 is bigger and faster than the previous block2 version. Upgradations have taken the fighter jet to a new height. Experts believe that this upgrade saw some major updates to the electronic gadgets of the previous JF-17 Thunder that majorly increased its aerial combat efficiency. It is even modern than the F-16s that are available to Pakistan. It is able to fly double the speed of sound.
It is made from a material that is less dense but extremely strong. The design was upgraded to a New and a larger holographic wide-angle head-up display. For the first time, stealth technology is added to Jf 17. JF-17 Block 3 allows the pilot more situational awareness that allows him/her to focus more on combat rather than flying the aircraft.
It is equipped with the latest RD 93 MA engine made by Russia. This engine is used in modern Russian aircraft MIG-35 which is a 4++ generation jet fighter. This engine provides an upthrust of 85 KiloNewton.
The most important factor in determining the performance of a fighter jet is the thrust to weight ratio. The greater the better. The thrust to weight ratio of a JF 17 is 1, which is quite good. To give you an idea, the thrust to weight ratio of rafale is 1.34, and F 16 has a ratio of 1.06.
To read a detailed comparison of JF 17 block 3 and rafale,
Read: JF 17 vs RAFALE
The top speed of the Block 3 version is 2 mach which is greater than the previous version which had a top speed of 1.6 mach. The range of Jf 17 block 3 version is 3,482 km. Fuel consumption is 1.34 km/hr. The weight of Jf 17 thunder is 6,856.
Jf 17 block 3 version has a radar cross-section of 4-meter square, which is quite a lot. For that, it can be easily detectable compared to other modern jets.
Jf 17 block 2 version had 7 hardpoints while block 3 version has 11 hardpoints. hardpoints are the number of weapons that can be attached to a fighter jet. Block 3 version is equipped with PL 15 missile system. This is actually the best upgrade in the block 3 version. PL 15 is an active radar-guided very long-range air-to-air missile. It has beyond range visual capacity which means it can attack the target even it is not visible. It has an exceptional range of 300 km. To give a comparison, the Missile system installed in rafale has a range of only 110 km. Pl 15 missile system has shaken the walls of the pentagon. America is worried about this system.
Though the Pakistan Air force never revealed the original cost, experts say that a single unit of JF 17 thunder block 3 costs around 25 to 30 billion dollars. This price is far less compared to other fighter jets with same features. A single unit of Rafale costs $93.6 billion.
Why JF-17 Thunder is So Popular?
JF-17 has been popular in the world as an economical yet far superior choice than its competitors. Many countries have shown interest in buying the 3rd block of the aircraft. JF-17 Block III is expected to be costlier than its previous variants but its next-generation capabilities raise its potential in the export market. The main advantage of JF 17 as mentioned previously that they are made on block building approaches. That means all the Block 2 version can be upgraded to the Block 3 version. Jf 17 is made locally in Pakistan with assistance from China. This provides leverage to Pakistan as it will reduce the dependency of Pakistan on other countries.