ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Technology of JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jet is one of the best available in the 21st century for dogfight.
The JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft was jointly developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (PAC/CAC).
Pakistan and China initiated a project for jointly developed fighter aircraft and they signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 1995 for joint design and development of a new fighter. In June 1999, the contract to jointly develop and produce the Chengdu FC-1/Super 7 was signed. The project was to be a 50:50 partnerships.
One of the best fighter jet available in market for Dogfight is JF17 Thunder, said a retire fighter jet pilot Hassan while talking to Dispatch News Desk News (DND) News Agency.
In 2005 China signed a $267 million contract with Russia for 100 RD-93 turbofan engines, a variant of the RD-33, to power the FC-1 Fierce Dragon fighter aircraft. Engine deliveries from Klimov and Chernyshev were to begin in 2006. It may be mentioned that the RD-93 engine is a variant of the RD-33 engine developed to power the MiG-29 fighter jet.
The RD-93 was developed by Russia’s Klimov design bureau specifically for the demands of FC-1 fighter (known in Pakistan as the JF-17 Thunder). Contract was between Russia and China with “No Resale and Re-export” clause. China went ahead and delivered two RD-93 equipped JF-17 fighters to Pakistan in March 2007 prompting India to protest the deal as a violation of the end-user agreement between Russia and China. India asked Russia to “freeze” the deal. Engine has thrust range of 79 kN to 98 kN Wet and specifically designed with increased thrust and relocated gearbox compared to base RD-33’s.
RD-93 is a smaller class engine. Some of the comparable engines to the RD-93 engines are the French Snecma M88 from the Rafale which has less thrust than the RD-93 and the Eurofighter’s EJ-2000 which again has lower WET thrust than the RD-93. Another engine worth mentioning here is the WS-13A which has a higher wet thrust but was a relatively untested Chinese engine back when the JF-17 was being designed.
In August 2007 Russia reportedly blocked China from re-exporting Russian RD-93 engines for Chinese-made fighters to Pakistan. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) inducted its first JF-17 squadron in February 2010 while China offered Pakistan Chinese made engines for future aircrafts. However, PAF liked performance of Rd-93 Russian made engines and decided to use same engines in its production line at Kamra and reached Russia for sale of engines and it was reported that a full-scale servicing and overhaul facility for the Klimov/Sarkisov RD-93 engine was established at Kamra Base of PAF by Russian experts.
Experts believe that aircraft industry of China has had difficulties in designing and building a powerful and reliable indigenous jet engine and Chinese Air Force’s fifth-generation fighter prototypes, the Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31 are flying with older Russian-made jet engines, the J-20 with the Saturn AL-31 and the J-31 with the Klimov RD-93. China has also purchased 24 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter jets with Russian made powerful AL-117S turbofan engines.
Reports indicate that Pakistani Aeronautical engineers believe that they evaluated a number of design alternatives and now they are determined that the RD-93 in this single-engine installation is absolutely right choice for Jf-17. Now Pakistan is working extensively with the engineers from Klimov bureau in St Petersburg and RD-93 engine has turned out to be an ideal solution.
In December 2014, Russia and Pakistan announced a defense cooperation agreement, which stipulated that Islamabad would buy the the Klimov RD-93 engine directly from Moscow, instead of acquiring the hardware via China. Russia offers training of technical staff and workers, for equipment shipped back together, installation and testing of production, and other reasonable arrangements for the various components of production.
Hero of Indo-Pak skies
JF17 Thunder became the king of the Indo-Pak skies recently when it shot out one Indian Mig-21 pilot of Indian Air Force was captured and consequently handed over to India as good will gesture to defuse Indo-Pak standoff which can lead full fledged military engagement between nuclear powers—India and Pakistan.
It is pertinent to mention that the JF-17 was designed to be a leap forward with the old Mig-21 design used by Indian Air Force. One of the primary goals of the JF-17 design was to fix the old Mig-21’s lack of modularity. This would enhance its export potential but it would also enable the PAF to customize and upgrade the JF-17 well into the 2020s and even 2030s if possible.