SOURCE: HARISH ASNODKER / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Arch Rivals, India and Pakistan have started working on a new and improved version of their low-end fighter variant yet again, India has plans to develop an upgraded Tejas MK1A with a host of new features and capabilities over the previous version, Pakistan to has initiated development of Block III configuration with its technological partner China to keep JF-17 relevant in near future .
Both Tejas MK1A and JF-17 Block III are yet to enter production and it likely JF-17 will be first to enter production in 2020 followed by MK1A in the 2021-22 period. For Pakistani Air Force Block III configuration will be first major upgrade JF-17 will receive after Block II Configuration since severally diluted Block I was rushed into production without achieving major capability milestone.
PAF till 2017 has received 100 Block I and Block II JF-17 Configuration in its fleet, which averages out to 13 aircraft per annum, since the formation of its first Squadron way back in 2010, while deliveries had commenced way back in 2008. Pakistan achieved 20 units production rate of JF-17 only in 2017.
JF-17 Block III Features
- KLJ-7A AESA Radar
- Larger Nose Cone
- Larger Tail
- Marginal Increase in Internal Fuel Capacity
- A helmet-mounted display (HMD)
- New three-axis fly-by-wire system
- New Russian RD-93MA or Chinese WS-13 Engine (Yet to be Confirmed)
Greater use of composite materials
PAF plans to procure 50 JF-17 Block III, in the meantime already has placed orders for 14 additional Block II.
IAF on other hand has placed orders for 40 Tejas MK1 and 83 Tejas MK1A largely to replace its aging fleet of Mig-21 squadrons, HAL plans to achieve a production rate of 18 aircraft per annum in next 3 years which will considerably improve previous slow pace of deliveries of the aircraft.
Tejas MK1A Features
- ELTA’s 2052 or Thales AESA Radar
- Upgraded Modern Avionics
- In-flight refueling capability
- External EW System
- More Maintenance friendly
On Paper Both Tejas MK1A and JF-17 Block III are on par in terms of capabilities and features they will get in their new variants, but JF-17 Block III which will feature largely Chinese supplied components and subsystem and will manage to keep the price tag at around $ 38-40 million per unit (approx) when compared to Tejas MK1A which reportedly will cost around $50 million per unit .
Yet Tejas MK1A will be dubbed as a superior aircraft due to the integration of superior western Avionics, weapons, and subsystems which comes with much more reliable Chinese supplied Avionics and subsystem in the direct performance comparison.
PAF is yet to confirm the development of JF-17 Block IV variant which is assumed will feature even more advance avionics and weaponry and India on other hands will start development of Tejas MK2 which will see even larger production run and increased capabilities and operational performance.