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Posts Tagged Advances Nuclear Missiles


Nawaz Sharif:A Clear & Present Danger To Pakistan’s Nuclear & Missile Program



Pakistan’s ‘Nuclear Club’ expands
nasarA new short range ballistic missile Hatf-IX (NASR) has recently been added in Pakistan’s nuke club. NASR with a range of 60 km, have a quick response system, can carry four missiles, have high accuracy and ensures deterrence in evolving scenario. It was part of short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SRBMs) and its medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) is expected to be completed in three cycles by July of this year. A short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) is a ballistic missile with a range of about 1,000 km or less. It should be noted that Nasr is a modern missile, developed considering the evolving threats to ballistic missiles. Shaheen-IA is developed keeping the same threat in mind, and so will be the future ballistic missiles of Pakistan.
 NASR is a significant addition as it is designed to defeat all eminent anti-tactical missile defense systems. Small range Nuclear Warheads are not meant to wipe out cities. Instead their role is to wipe out enemy bases or a strategic point which is too hard to be conquered. This 60 km range battle field missile is meant to be used with Tactical Nukes – not Strategic – to stop advancing armor division’s entering into the country. Many strategic planners in New Delhi have long been of the opinion that there exist loopholes in the Pakistani deterrence at shorter ranges which can be exploited in the Indian Cold Start Doctrine to capture Pakistani territory. Therefore missile is considered to be more deadly then longer range missiles because as it lower the nuclear threshold (for tactical nukes). The Americans had at one point deployed similar short range battlefield nukes in East-Europe against the Soviets – to underscore the will to go all out nuclear against a larger invading force. It is called an effective deterrence.
The NASR is more likely to be utilized as a means of targeting static Indian military infrastructure close to the border with conventional warheads – a more accurate substitute to an MBRL. Shireen Mazari has termed NASR as counter to India’s limited war doctrine. We are signaling our acquisition of tactical missile capability and miniaturization technology. This will allow our already developed cruise missiles – the Hatf-VIII [Ra’ad] which is an air-launched cruise missile [ALCM] and Hatf-VII [Babur], which is a ground-launched cruise missile [GLCM] – to be miniaturized for sea-launched submarine capability in order to move on to a second-strike capability. This would help stabilize the nuclear deterrence and its credibility.” Missiles development does not mean offense but they serve as a deterrent when our hostile state is in race to increase its missile capability. Napoleon Bonaparte once said that “He who fears being conquered is sure of defeat”. Hence to defeat the fear, state has to take steps to fortify its defense. Scientists, military and nation should be congratulated for such developments which ensure state security.
 Please Send Articles for Publication in PAKISTAN THINK TANK at the following Address:  agamjd@gmail.com
Please Send Articles for Publication:  agamjd@gmail.com

Pakistan’s Missile Program

Courtesy: http://blogs.transparent.com/urdu/pakistans-missile-program/

Posted on 05. Mar, 2013 by 

Motivated by ongoing hostilities with India, Pakistan embarked upon an intense ballistic missile development program in the early 1980′s. Overcoming technical naivete  substantial disadvantages in infrastructure and human capital relative to India, the imposition of U.S. and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) sanctions, and the uncertainties of democratization, Pakistan gained a sophisticated missile arsenal in only 30 years.


The perceived strategic necessity of displaying the ability to execute a nuclear strike deep within India has sustained Pakistan’s interest in medium- and long-range missiles. The Congressional Research Service and other assessments continue to report ongoing Pakistani missile collaborations with China and North Korea. Pakistan also remains a non-signatory to the MTCR, but the last U.S. missile sanction laws against Pakistani entities were waived in 2003. Recent missile developments, such as the April 2011 test-firing of the short-range nuclear capable Hatf-9/NASR missile, indicate potential Pakistani interest in building a tactical nuclear capability. Pakistan considers its nuclear weapons to be national “crown jewels” and likely holds missile delivery systems in a similar regard. Barring substantial changes in South Asian geopolitics, a change in attitude seems unlikely.

Barring unprecedented industrial growth and a substantially enhanced defense-industrial base, Pakistan will likely continue its strategy of developing advanced missile systems with foreign assistance rather than pursuing the more expensive and less feasible option of pure indigenous development. Continued state patronage, fueled by competition with India, the high prestige accorded to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and the symbolic value of diversifying missile delivery systems will likely sustain continued missile development in Pakistan.

Here are the Known Missiles Currently Held by Pakistan:Battlefield range ballistic missiles (BRBM):

  • Hatf-I/IA
  • Abdali-I
  • Nasr (Hatf-IX)

Short Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM):

  • Ghaznavi
  • Abdali-II

Medium Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM):

  • Ghauri I
  • Shaheen I
  • Ghauri II
  • Shaheen II

Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM):

  • Ghauri-III
  • Shaheen-III (missile is under development)

Intercontinental Ballistic missile (ICBM):Taimur 7,000 km, a proposed ICBM is under development for targeting Eastern India and potential rogue enemies in the Middle EastCruise Missiles:

  • Babur (Hatf VII) – Ground-Launched Cruise Missile (submarine-launched version under development)
  • Hatf-VIII (Ra’ad) – Air-launched Cruise Missile developed exclusively for launch from Aerial Platforms.


Pakistani engineers are also said to be in the advance stages of developing MIRV technology for its missiles. This would allow the military to fit several warheads on the same ballistic missile and then launch them at separate targets (Reference:BBC News. 2010-12-01.)
Along with the lethality of Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 and  J-10Pakistan has opted to develop High Altitude Missile Defence based on yet to be named Missile Defence System, which we propose should be called Qasim (After Muslim General Muhammad Bin Qasim) to shoot down short to medium range missiles like the Agni Series using a hit-to-kill approach. Qasim series missile will be based on kinetic energy of the impact. Kalar Kahar and Somiani will be two sites for its deployment.
Pakistan’s cabinet gave approval to the country’s air force to begin negotiations for the purchase of F-16 and J-10 fighter aircrafts from the US and China. Both America and China has already offered these planes to Pakistan. PAF will purchase 98 hi-tech aircraft besides missiles and other equipment to improve the capabilities of Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Mixed package of hi-tech aircraft and equipment is being purchased from USA and China are as under: J-10 aircraft (36), F-16 A/B, ex-Pakistan (26), F-16 C/D (18 with an option for 18 more), SD-10 BVR missiles (300), BVR, 500 (American), targeting pods 18 and joint direct attack munitions (500). 
Nawaz Sharif has Cut The Pakistan Air Force Development Program: Vision 2025 of PAF Strategic Planning Shelved by PML(N)

The expenditure on the entire package would be met from PAF share in Armed Forces Development Program (AFFDP-2019), the document says. The Cabinet (Interim Government), according to the document, had allowed PAF to set up Joint Working Group (JWG) with CATIC for procurement of 36 FC-20 aircraft. The government was also seeking for PAF in securing long-term credit financing for the J-10 aircraft from Chinese government, besides allowing PAF to initiate a Letter of Request (LoR) for the F-16 package and equipment through the Defence Ministry.
Megaton Weapons Miniaturized & Deployed on Ghauri Missiles &Smaller 0.5 Kilotons on NASR Missiles in Rajasthan/ Bikaner Axis  

JF-17 Thunder – Program

The JF-17 Thunder project clearly envisaged co-production of the aircraft both in China and Pakistan. The objective of setting up of JF-17 production facilities at PAC Kamra was not only to enhance the PAF’s operational capability at affordable price but also create employment opportunities for about 5000 people. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) holds the exclusive rights of 58% of JF-17 airframe co-production work. A comprehensive infrastructure comprising state of the art machines and required skilled human resource has very quickly been developed at the Complex. The final assembly and flight testing of the aircraft was the first JF-17 co-production activity to start at PAC.

In February 1992, China and Pakistan decided to co-develop a multi-role, all-weather light fighter named “Super-7”. The big step forward for FC-1 came when the USA imposed military export sanctions in response to Pakistan’s nuclear program, and to Chinese-Pakistani transfers of ballistic missile components. With spares for its top-of-the-line F-16s in question, and additional F-16s removed as an option, Pakistan sought help from its Chinese ally. A joint development and production agreement was signed in June 1999, with China Aviation Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) and Pakistan each contributing 50% of the estimated $150 million in development costs.

The design was finalized in 2001, with initial prototype flights beginning in 2003. The first JF-17 prototype aircraft (called FC-1) was rolled out in May 2003. It made its first flight in August 2003. Later on, two more prototype aircraft were added for basic structure, flight qualities, performance and engine flight testing while two prototype aircraft were involved in comprehensive avionics flight testing. A JF-17 did not fly with its full avionics suite until 2006, but testing and development appear to have progressed smoothly. The basic flight testing was completed in 2007. The Pak Tribune reported on April 29, 2004 that the first eight of these aircraft would be delivered to the PLAAF in 2006.

Small batch production of the single-seat, single-engine JF-17, began in China in June 2006 for deliveries to Pakistan in 2007. The fourth prototype of JF-17 Thunder aircraft, equipped with exclusive avionics and weapons qualification systems, jointly manufactured by Pakistan and China completed its maiden test operational flight 10 May 2006, proving its creditability to meet the needs of both the countries. The 11 minutes flight at 1500 meters height with 500 kilometers speed per hour. It took off from People’s Liberation Air force base, Chengdu and landed back on the same runway, reporting perfect performance. Chief of Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed who was chief guest at the maiden flight ceremony congratulated the pilots, engineers and technicians of the two countries to make the JF-17 Thunder project successful.

Pakistan began domestic production of the JF-17 Thunder fighter in 2008, with its air force hoping to take delivery of up to 10 aircraft and form an operational squadron by the end of 2008. The Inaugural Ceremony to launch the manufacturing of JF-17 Thunder sub-Assemblies was held 22 January 2008 at PAC Kamra. Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force was the chief guest on this historical occasion. The ceremony commemorates yet another milestone in the Pakistan China Military Cooperation.

Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed, Chief of the Air Staff, speaking on the occasion said “I am committed to ensuring that PAC quickly gears up its resources to take up its share of co-production. I am looking forward to achieving, within one year, a capability of producing 15 JF-17 aircraft annually. This would then have to be enhanced to 20-25 aircraft in 2-3 years’ time. I am also looking forward to the establishment of the first JF-17 Operational Conversion Unit in PAF by the end of this year.” He also said, “I would like to remind every one _ especially, the personnel of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex_of the challenge and promise of success that lie ahead, as you embark upon the coveted goal of manufacturing. Not many people are afforded an opportunity to be part of the major and prestigious national programme such as the JF-17 Thunder aircraft. It is for you to seize the opportunity and make your nation proud. He further said, “I take pride in this joint venture between the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

In line with the original plan, the manufacturing of sub-assemblies for the JF-17 Thunder was launched at PAC Kamra on 22 January, 2008. This would, indeed, be a red letter day in the history of PAC. The production of sub-assemblies would be, subsequently, expanded to encompass the parts manufacturing, final assembly and flight testing. Fighter aircraft manufacturing, which was once a closely guarded realm of developed countries only, is now well within our reach. The success, today, stands on the foundations of the perseverance of our pilots, engineers and technicians and their Chinese counterparts. The landmark achievement is not only a source of pride for the Pakistani nation but also a measure of rare distinction for the country to have joined a select group of nations having indigenous fighter aircraft production capability.

In order to speed up the development progress and facilitate maturity of the aircraft, two J-17 of the small batch production were received in Pakistan on 21 March 2007. Subsequently, these aircraft made their debut by participating in Pakistan Day Parade on 23 March 2007. Islamabad took delivery of six more from China in early February 2008 to test avionics and weapon systems.

A new JF-17 Thunder multi- role fighter plane, first of its kind made in Pakistan, is unveiled at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in Kamra of Pakistan on Monday, November 23, 2009. Representatives from the Chinese embassy, the Chinese companies involved in the project, the Pakistani three services and federal ministries were present at a ceremony held at the PAC in Kamra, some 60 kilometers northwest of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) would be able to manufacture 15 fighters in 2008, with the rate increasing to 25 a year by 2011. Jointly developed with China, where it is designated the FC-1, about 60% of the airframe and 80% of the avionics would be indigenously produced by 2010, boosting Pakistan’s budding manufacturing industry.

The 8th Aerospace Laureates awarding ceremony was held at Zhuhai Television at 19:30 on 12 November 2012. “Laurel Awards” is the most authoritative and influential prize in China’s aviation and aerospace industry. Over 400 high-level officials and elites from government, military forces, aviation industry and civil aviation attended the ceremony and watch the disclosure of eight awards together. CATIC and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) won the Working Together Award by the success of FC-1/JF-17 program. It takes fifteen years for CATIC and PAF to go from the negotiation of cooperative research and development in 1992 to FC-1/JF-17’s first flight in 2003 and finally to its delivery in 2007.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif paid a visit to Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra on 13 December 2013 for briefings on the exports of the Pakistan Air Force’s aircraft, the JF-17 Thunder. Nawaz was the guest of honor at the inauguration event for the roll out ceremony of the 50th JF-17 aircraft. The event was attended by delegates from China as well as the PAF. Speaking at the end of the inauguration, the premier appreciated China’s efforts to help Pakistan manufacture 50 JF-17s and also commended the bravery of the Pakistan Air Force.

The event also marked the launch of production work for Block-II JF-17 aircraft. The Prime Minister also signed a MoU regarding the co-production of Block-II of additional 50 JF-17 aircraft. The MoU also included the joint sales and marketing agreement with China Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC). The first 50 JF-17s were equipped with Chinese KLJ-10 radars and SD-10 and PL-8 missiles. However, PAC was in talks with France’s Thales to procure the RC-400 radar and with MBDA for Mica air-to-air missiles. the aircraft initially used Russian-made RD-93 engines – a move that raised India’s ire – but will eventually be powered by China’s developmental WS-13.

Under the terms of its contract with Chengdu Aircraft, Pakistan will buy 150 domestically produced JF-17s to replace its Chengdu F-7Ps, but it could eventually procure 300 aircraft to reduce its dependence on US- and Russian-built fighters. The JF-17 will form the backbone of Pakistan to replace aging Pakistan’s MiG-21-derived Chengdu F-7, Nanchang A-5 and Mirage III/V currently in service which are being crashed at an alarming rate.

Foreign Sales

Pakistan had long been trying to find countries to buy the JF-17 in order to reduce the per-unit cost the Pakistan Air Force pays. After 2010 the aircraft would be available for re-export through China and the share in the financial receipts would be paid to Pakistan. Thirteen countries have so far expressed interest in purchasing the JF-17 aircraft are Azerbaijan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Algeria and Sudan.

In 2010 China was in negotiations with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Venezuela, while Pakistan was in talks with Turkey and Egypt. Later, there were reports that Argentina and China were in talks about a co-production deal for the FC-1, while Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro has confirmed Pakistan had offered his country the JF-17.

Farnborough’s 2010 edition airshow opened its doors to the trade visitors on 19 July. Highlights of this year’s FIA included the eagerly awaited international debut of the JF-17 Thunder Fighter in the static park. JF-17 Thunder, also known as FC-1, being jointly built by China and Pakistan made its first appearance at an international air show. Two fighters touched down at Farnborough on the Sunday July 15 prior to the show opening after making refueling stops in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, making waves at this prestigious airshow in Farnborough.

On 19 July, Li Yuhai, Vice President of AVIC and Ma Zhiping, President of AVIC met with Pakistan Air Chief Marshal Rao Quamar Suleman in the Sino-Pak joint chalet. Li Yuhai expressed the gratitude of the Chinese side for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) sending the JF-17 Thunder fighters to the airshow. He pointed out that this would have a very positive impact on the marketing of JF-17 Thunder. Air Chief Marshal Suleman said, JF-17 Thunder belonged both China and Pakistan. The joint participation of this airshow was successful.

Later in November 2010, at the 8th China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition held in Zhuhai, FC-1/JF-17 demonstrated its first aerobatic flight at an international air show. In November 2011, its first appearance in Middle East at Dubai International Airshow drew great attention again. Media speculated whether FC-1/JF-17 will become the most popular aircraft in the next ten years.

Numerous countries are interested in obtaining a fighter jet jointly developed by Pakistan and China, a senior officer of the Pakistan air forces said 24 May 2013. “We’ve been receiving inquiries and expressions of interest on the JF-17 Thunder from many countries in the Middle East, Africa and even as far as South America,” Air Marshal Sohail Gul Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, told China Daily. A FC-1/JF-17 fighter with its weapons, which is the result of a joint China-Pakistan development program, was seen during the Dubai Airshow in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 17, 2013.

Saudi Arabia was reportedly considering purchasing the JF-17 Thunder fighter jet that was jointly produced by China and Pakistan. According to a January 2014 report in World Tribune, the Saudi Arabian Defence Ministry and Royal Saudi Air Force were reviewing the JF-17 program and considering becoming a partner in it. Pakistan had offered the JF-17 fighter to Saudi Arabia with technology transfer and co-production. The offer was apparently occurred when Saudi Arabian Deputy Defence Minister Prince Salman Bin Sultan visited Pakistan in January 2014, as he reportedly toured the JF-17 program while in the country.

FC-1 “Chao Qi” / JF-17 Thunder

The FC-1 “Chao Qi” is an all-weather, multipurpose light fighter aircraft. The aircraft is equipped with advanced avionics and armed with medium-range missiles. It is capable of carrying out both air-to-air and air-to-groud missions. By 2004 this new multi-role fighter had been redesignated the Xialon (Fierce Dragon), and for Pakistan as JF-17 “Thunder”. It might be designated J-9 if it became operational in Chinese service, but as of 2011 this did not appear to be in the works.

As a substitute for the Super-7, China developed the FC-1 (Fighter China 1) lightweight multipurpose fighter based on the design for the MiG-33, which was rejected by the Soviet Air Force. The FC-1 was developed with a total investment in excess of $500 million, including support from the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), mainly for export to replace the 120 F-7M/P fighters in service in the Pakistani Air Force, though it was possible that the Chinese Air Force will use this aircraft as well. The deal to manufacture 150 FC-1 (Fighter China) jets was struck when General Musharraf visited China just before the Kargil war in 1998.

Chengdu Aircraft Industry Company [CAIC], based in Sichuan Province, is China’s second-largest fighter production base, and the enterprise is cooperating with Pakistan’s Aviation Integrated Company and Russia’s Mikoyan Aero-Science Production Group [MASPG] in the development of the FC-1. Israel and several European countries are being considered as suppliers for the plane’s avionics. The first flight was planned for 1997 with delivery to the Pakistani Air Force scheduled for 1999.

Initially it was anticipated that the FC-1 would be a high- performance, low-cost fighter plane to supplement the F-10 air superiority fighters developed for the Chinese Air Force. These planes will be fitted with a single Klimov Design Bureau RD-93 engines. They are a more powerful version of RD-33 engines, two of which are fitted in MIG-29. The China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC) tried to persuade the Chinese Air Force to use the FC-1 so as to increase the production run and reduce the unit cost. But the Chinese military has resisted, being of the view that equiping the Air Force with two types of fighter planes with similar performance within the same time period would both consume limited financial resources and complicate logistical support for dissimilar aircraft.

It is widely reported that the FC-1 is a continuation of the “MiG-33 [R33]” program developed in the 1980s. The Russian company Mikoyan OKB Design Bureau, which designs all MIG series of aircraft, sold the design of MIG-33 to the China and Pakistan. This report is the source of considerable confusion, and indeed some rather fanciful speculation. The so-called MiG-33 design used in conjunction with the FC-1 program was apparently a the poorly attested “Product 33” lightweight single-engine project of the mid-1980s. A decade later, the MiG-33 nomenclature was briefly associated with the much larger twin-engine Mig-29M. This confused history has led to observations that the “FC-1 features air inlets on the lateral sides of the fuselage rather than the ventral inlets of the MiG-33. … the most apparent modifications to the MiG-33 design is the repositioning of the ventral fins from the engine compartment…” These supposed modifications to the mid-90s MiG-33 design actually reflect the fact that the FC-1 is an entirely difference airplane with no design relationship to the MiG-33 [MiG-29M].

These improvement in performance affected the program’s costs, and if the final production order if fewer than 300 aircraft the unit price will rise from the original $10 million to $15 million.

The FC-1 was to make it’s first flight in 1996, but the project was delayed when Pakistan sought to upgrade the performance characteristics of the FC-1 to respond to India’s acquisition of Su-30MKIs. After several years of stagnation, the Pakistani Prime Minister’s February 1998 trip to China resulted in an agreement to continue development of the fighter. At that time Pakistan was interested in acquiring at least 150 fighters, with the Chinese contemplating acquiring over 200.

The JF-17 Thunder project has been completed in a record period of four years. China National Aviation Corp officially signed the development contract for the FC-1 airplane in 1999. The project initially suffered a setback due to imposition of sanctions in 1999, which hindered acquisition of avionics and weaponry for the aircraft. The avionics had to be delinked from airframe development in 2001. China National Aviation Corp completes the detailed preliminary design in 2001 and in 2002 the company completed the detailed design structure and the system charts.

Formal production work began September 16, 2002, on the FC-1 aircraft in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The FC-1 made its formal debut at China’s Fourth International Air Show scheduled November 4 to 7, 2002, in Zhuhai, the nearest mainland city to Macao. China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I ) made fresh progress in 2003, with 5 planes having passed evaluation and seven new planes completed their maiden flight. “Xiaolong / FC-1”, or Fierce Dragon, produced by the corporation last year was applauded as one of the “Ten Major National Scientific Events in 2003”

In July 2003 it was reported that the “SUPER-7” fighter jet was ready to take its maiden flight, although a detailed timetable was not released. China’s Super-7 Fighter completed its taxiing test on July 03, 2003 at a test ground of Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Corporation (CAC). As one of the eight major ground tests that must be completed before test flight, the taxiing test is aimed at trying the correctness of the design of electricity supply system, as well as signal connections between the electricity supply system and other external systems so as to provide important data to guarantee a successful first fly. Leiqiang, deputy director of the Chengdu Flight Group’s trial flight department under the Chinese Air Force, said on Tuesday he will carry out the maiden flight task. On the day of the first flight, China Central Television (CCTV) will dispatch a special report group to broadcast the whole flight live. Leiqiang, also a “SUPER-7” pilot, and Yangwei, the jet’s designer, who is also regarded as the father of “SUPER-7,” will be featured on the CCTV program “Face to Face.”

On 25 August 2003 the “owlet dragon” FC-1 airplane carried on the initial flight. It flews 17 minutes before it returned to the airport. The serial production of the aircraft was to begin by January 2006. The aircraft will replace the Mirage, F-16 and F-7 aircraft with the latest technology and it will meet professional requirements of the Pakistan Air Force.

Pakistan Continues JF-17 Upgrades, Possible Interest in FC-31 Emerges




Nov. 18, 2014 
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, left, sits in the cockpit of the 50th JF-17 Thunder aircraft, co-produced with the support of China National Aero-technology Import and Export Corp.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, left, sits in the cockpit of the 50th JF-17 Thunder aircraft, co-produced with the support of China National Aero-technology Import and Export Corp. (AAMIR QURESHI/ / AFP)

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan continues to proceed with improvements to its JF-17 Thunder jet fighter program, but the recent Zhuhai air show also revealed possible longer term ambitions to acquire stealth aircraft, namely the Shenyang FC-31.

According to Pakistan officials at Zhuhai, progress is being made to improve the JF-17’s avionics and software, and to fix a probe.

Kaiser Tufail, analyst, author and former air commodore, said these upgrades may not require the aircraft to be sent back to the factory at Pakistani Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, but could be handled locally at unit level.

“As flight trials with different weapons are getting completed, it is time for hardware and software upgrades. I am not sure if these would be done at unit level or factory level; perhaps the former.”

Though the upgrades are not a radical departure from the Block I standard, Tufail nevertheless has “no doubt that they would improve the operational readiness considerably” for the Air Force.

What the future holds for the fighter is uncertain as details of a Block III variant have not been revealed, and Tufail says at present “no one seems willing to talk about them.”

Similarly, analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said only reasonable speculation can made at present.

“Block-III is conceptual right now but most likely will see an AESA radar, HMD [helmet-mounted display] and some other avionics improvements. I am not sure if the airframe will be further modified for RCS [radar cross-section] reduction or airframe life enhancements. We just have to wait and see,” he said.

The perennial question regarding the JF-17, however, is its hitherto lack of export orders. Shabbir highlights the disruption facing the fighter’s most likely customers, but is still optimistic.

“Many of the countries that are probable JF-17 buyers have had political or financial turmoil but it is highly likely that an order will be won in 2015.”

Nevertheless, Pakistan revealed that a squadron of 18 JF-17s recently took part in a major exercise in western China, which marks the type’s first large-scale deployment.

Meanwhile, although Pakistan’s apparent interest in the FC-31 has caused a stir, Tufail maintains such an aircraft is not required.

“It seems to be a knee-jerk statement without much substance at this point in time,” he said.

“While stealth capability is welcome, the long-range capability that goes with this aircraft may be an overkill for an Air Force that is configured primarily for tactical air support to surface forces,” he said.

“Besides, a concerted strategic bombing campaign to decimate the enemy’s war-fighting capability needs months to achieve results. That option is a non-starter for nuclear-armed belligerents, as much as it is for the rest of the world, which can’t sit back and watch the dangerous escalation,” he added.

“So, I stick to my previously professed contention that it is tactical fighters that we need first and foremost. Two dozen or so stealth fighters seems more of a ‘fashion’ statement.”

He also highlights a perennial concern for Pakistan that may rule out the FC-31; “Who has got the money? Not Pakistan.”

Whether a Pakistani order for the FC-31 will materialize is unclear, though there will be an eventual need to replace the F-16, which is Pakistan’s most potent front-line combat aircraft.

Analyst, author and former Australian defense attaché to Pakistan, Brian Cloughley, said the FC-31 is a likely candidate, but perhaps not for some time.

“It’s being described in some quarters as an export machine, but that is bound to take a long, long time. Certainly there will have to be some sort of replacement for the F-16s, and it won’t be European or Russian, for obvious reasons, so it must be China,” he said.

“I think we can bet on the FC-31.”

Email: uansari@defensenews.com.


ISLAMABAD — Contrary to speculation, development of the JF-17 aircraft continues apace with avionics and weapons carriage capability improvements, work ongoing on future variants, and impending establishment of the third squadron.

Chief Project Director of the JF-17 program, Air Vice Marshal Javed Ahmed, told Defense News the program was “as per schedule and there are no delays,” saying the current fleet had logged 10,000 hours and flown over 13,500 sorties.

He also revealed the third squadron would be raised after Exercise High Mark 2014 toward the end of the year.

Chief among these improvements are avionics, with Ahmed highlighting they are aimed at improving “situational awareness” and the “performance and lethality of the aircraft,” but still centered on the NRIET KLJ-7 radar which supports the SD-10 beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.

However, building on local capability, “integrating some additional smart and indigenously developed weapons” is underway, though Ahmed did not specify.

Short-range air-to-air armament, however, still consists of the PL-5E II, a recent variant of an aged weapon.

Nevertheless, analyst and former Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail says the Air Force is happy with Chinese missiles.

“Price per unit seems to be a likely factor, besides hooking them to the fire control computer for firing zone solutions, which would also cost a fortune,” he said.

Potential payload shortcomings have also been highlighted by analysts. The JF-17 is often seen with three large drop-tanks indicating low internal fuel capacity and/or high consumption by the Klimov RD-93 engine.

However, Ahmed says the three-tank configuration is for ferry flights or “extended operational training exercises/missions” with routine flights made “in clean or single-tank configuration.”

Therefore, for smaller nations and those conducting tactical missions, “it has the requisite reach to engage targets and can also provide required on-station time in an air defense role,” and aerial refueling “further augmented reach and endurance.”

Tufail is unconvinced, though, and highlights that 10,000 hours/13,500 sorties, equates to 45 minutes per sortie.

“Notwithstanding the aerial refueling capability [which has many operational and logistics limitations], the short sortie time may be a no-no for prospective buyers,” he said.

His most likely solution is not so straightforward, however.

“[Conformal fuel tanks] are absolutely essential to a multi-role JF-17, but these are not easy to install, since the aerodynamics of the aircraft is greatly altered and it would call for flight testing in all regimes, including certification of all stores anew.”

Ahmed says other solutions are being considered “based on customer requirements.”

“The dual rack ejector for bombs has already been integrated, flight tested and being flown in PAF. A similar concept of multimissile launcher is under evaluation for missiles,” he said.

Though largely operated by state-owned and Air Force-run Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Ahmed also highlighted progress on increasing private sector involvement.

“Several Pakistani vendors have been cultivated and brought up to the proficiency levels mandated by aviation programs. The nascent aviation industry in the private sector is taking root and is gradually enhancing its share in this program of national importance,” he said.

Though numerous analysts have commented on the lack of export sales despite well-publicized promotion and apparent interest from potential customers, Ahmed defends this apparent lack of success.

“Defense purchases, especially those of combat aircraft, are expensive undertakings and are therefore preceded by lengthy evaluations and detailed deliberations by the professional decision makers. The response that the aircraft is receiving is highly encouraging and the export orders may not be far off,” he said.

He also stressed that the JF-17 was still a highly attractive option in an age of austerity as it “offers a highly cost effective solution with cutting edge capabilities,” and that “no other contemporary combat aircraft offers the same capabilities in comparable price range.”

Ahmed also highlighted customized “avionics and weapon packages according to the specific requirements of each customer” as well as training, maintenance and logistics packages, which includes “indigenously developed customized solutions, testers and simulators.”

Ahmed did not, however, shed any light on reports the JF-17 could be offered in a wider package including the Chinese ZDK-03 AEW&C aircraft.

Looking forward, Ahmed confirmed aspects of the Block III avionics package, which would include the evaluation of an active electronically scanned array radar option along with other upgrades, and this process was also mindful of potential export customer requirements.

“At present, the Chinese and indigenous systems are performing well in JF-17 aircraft. However, there are different Western proposals and considerations for avionics systems of Block-III JF-17 aircraft which could also be an option for our customer countries,” he said.


Email: uansari@defensenews.com.




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BOOK REVIEW: Nuclear Pakistan Strategic Dimensions


Nuclear Pakistan
Strategic Dimensions
Edited by Zulfqar Khan
Readership / Level
This book is a critical study of the nuclear and deterrence-related security dilemma of Pakistan vis-à-vis India. It recapitulates the different facets of its strategic dimensions in view of the growing conventional and strategic asymmetry. It critically examines some key issues like: NPT; nuclear command and control; the BMD system; Pakistan’s nuclear posture of credible minimum deterrence; the Kashmir conflict; Pakistan’s approach to biological weapons non-proliferation regime; and the role of tactical nuclear weapons in future offensive-deterrence planning—from a Pakistani perspective.
In the twenty-first century, Pakistan faces multiple threats—military-cum-non-military in parallel with its weak economic, diplomatic and regional clout vis-à-vis India. This situation was further aggravated as a consequence of the negative effects on Pakistan of the Indo–US nuclear agreement and their strategic partnership. Consequently, Pakistan’s policy of strategic posturing has manifestly shifted toward comparative risk taking with intent to strengthen its deterrence against India. Moreover, in order to make its deterrence more vibrant and effective, Pakistan had initiated sophisticated strategic measures in the realm of restructuring and reinforcement of its command and control and export control regimes. In addition, it calibrated its nuclear posturing on a more ambiguous pedestal. In this backdrop, the book endeavours to unravel a whole gamut of issues that are by default linked with this policy.
About the Author / Editor
Dr Zulfqar Khan enjoys over twenty-five years of experience in the field of research and analysis in different institutions and universities in the field of nuclear, defence, security, conflict, and diplomatic affairs. He is a Senior Analyst, Pakistan Ministry of Defence; Visiting Fellow Islamabad Policy Research Institute; former Visiting Faculty of Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad; and presently, Visiting Faculty of the National Defence University, Islamabad

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