The Argentine air force is in need of an immediate upgrade, but it is uncertain if the country can financially support acquiring the JF-17. According to sources from Pakistan, obtaining the JF-17 Block III could potentially provide a significant boost to the Argentine air force with its improved heads-up display (HUD) and AESA radars.
Developed jointly by China's Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), the JF-17 fighter aircraft was designed to meet the airpower needs of the Pakistan Air Force. It is a medium-sized, multi-role fighter available in both single and twin-seat versions. With an overall length of 14.9 meters, the JF-17 stands at 4.77 meters tall and 9.45 meters wide, with a wing area of 24.4m². The aircraft's empty weight is 6,441 kg, while it can take-off with a maximum weight of 12,700 kg. When fully loaded, its weight is 9,100 kg, and it can land with a maximum weight of 7,802 kg. The JF-17 can carry a fuel weight of up to 2,268kg.
Equipped with either a Klimov RD-93 turbofan engine or WS-13 turbofan engine, the Thunder has a dry thrust capacity of 49.4 Kilonewton and an afterburner thrust of 84.4kN. The fighter jet boasts a top speed of 2,205 kilometers per hour and can travel up to 3,480 kilometers on a single ferry. It has an operational radius of 1,352 kilometers and a service ceiling of 16,920 meters.
The aircraft's armament includes a 23mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon, as well as unguided rocket pods in 57mm and 90mm sizes. It can also be armed with air-to-air missiles such as the short-range AIM-9L/M, PL-5E, and PL-9C, as well as beyond visual range (BVR) PL-12/SD-10 missiles. In addition, the Thunder can carry anti-surface missiles such as the MAR-1 anti-radiation missile, AM-39 Exocet anti-ship missile, and Ra’ad ALCM cruise missile.
Problem With Tejas
A Chinese delegation met with Argentine officials to discuss the potential acquisition of twelve FC-1 fighter jets, which is the Chinese designation for the PAF JF-17. While there were rumors that India's Tejas Light Combat Aircraft, developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), was also being considered, it appears that the use of British parts in the Tejas has effectively removed it from contention.
According to reports, three key components of British origin have been identified in the Tejas fighter jet. One of these is the Quartz Nose cone (Radome) used in conjunction with the air-to-air refueling probe for the LCA's FOC variant, which is manufactured by Cobham, a British aerospace company. Additionally, the LCA Tejas fleet is equipped with Martin-Baker's Mark 16 IN16G zero/zero ejection seat, another product of a British firm.
Why JF-17 Can Beat The Tejas
The Tejas fighter jet has a limited number of integrated weapons, mostly of Indian and some Western origin. This can be problematic for countries that are forced to buy Indian weapons that may not suit their requirements or opt for Western weapons and question the benefit of buying Indian.
In contrast, the JF-17 fighter jet offers a broader range of proven and tested Chinese weapons, which potential buyers may already be familiar with or feel comfortable purchasing. Additionally, countries with questionable human rights records may prefer buying from China to avoid potential sanctions.
China's Security Council Veto gives countries that purchase weapons from China significant influence over Security Council decisions. In contrast, India lacks this advantage.
The JF-17 is better suited for replacing older fighter jets such as the MiG-21/27, Chinese J-6/J-7, F-4/F-5, F-104, or upgrading from armed trainers, offering the right capabilities at the right price point.
The Tejas fighter jet appears to be a confusing aircraft that does not fit any known market segment.
While modest, the JF-17 fighter jet brings solid and proven advancements to the table.
In contrast, the Tejas fighter jet is an unproven aircraft, mixing and matching various components, which undermines potential buyer confidence.
The JF-17 primarily uses Chinese equipment, with some Italian and Russian components cleared for re-export to third-party countries.
The Tejas fighter jet, on the other hand, relies on American engines, Israeli radar, and a mix of avionics from countries that are unlikely to authorize re-export.
The Tejas fighter jet lacks a major operator, even in the Indian Air Force, which has only a small number of these aircraft in service. This undermines potential buyer confidence in the aircraft.
HAL's poor production-engineering standards pose significant challenges for the effective management of aircraft due to the lack of fleet standardization and hindered maintenance processes. Insufficient quality control measures contribute to component failures, increasing the risk of accidents, thereby highlighting the need for strict quality assurance protocols.
In addition, HAL's inadequate product support often leaves its customers without timely assistance when facing issues, resulting in a lack of responsiveness and potentially causing significant operational disruptions. These shortcomings in production and support standards are areas of concern that require attention and improvement to ensure the safe and reliable operation of aircraft.
About The Author
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst, and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Private Limited which is a Subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia.
(Views expressed are the author's own & do not reflect the editorial stance of Mission Victory India)
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