Pakistan believes that the performance of the JF-17 is equivalent to the Su-30MKI, MiG-29 and Mirage 2000 fighters of their rival, India.

The Pakistan Air Force recognizes that the JF-17’s combat and maintenance costs are very high compared to modern fighters, so it is necessary to reduce it more. Under the contract, the JF-17 localization rate of the Pakistani aviation complex is 58%, but it is far from reaching this rate.

Pakistan buys raw materials and key components of the aircraft from China and assembles it into the domestic JF-17. Pakistan can only manufacture a few parts such as the wings, the front fuselage and the tail, but it has to import materials from China. Most of the JF-17 components are made in China, South Africa, and Eastern Europe. Only the ejection seat belongs to Martin Baker of England.


Since entering service in 2009, the Pakistan Air Force has been equipped with 115 JF-17s. The much-anticipated, two-seat training model was officially introduced in December 2020.

There are currently 5 squadrons of JF-17s in service with the Pakistani Air Force. Currently, the JF-17 has two improved models (Block 1 and 2) and a more advanced Block 3 model. In December 2020, PAC began serial production of a technologically more advanced Block 3 version of the aircraft with improved radar and avionics, a more powerful engine, electronic countermeasures, and enhanced weapons capability.

In principle, modern fighters should be equipped with reliable systems to minimize maintenance requirements. The fighter’s performance is assessed by its avionics, weapons and engines. In terms of data processing, the JF-17’s domestic Link-17 is not only unreliable, it does not have a sufficient data transfer rate and cannot integrate with the Link-16 of the F-16 fighter.

The core of the JF-17 avionics system is the KLJ-7AL radar and the fire control computer. The KLJ-7 radar has a variety of modes, but there are major operational and maintenance problems, and the failure rate of the radar is very high. Many modules of the JF-17’s fire control computer are not working reliably, so Pakistan is currently trying to use domestic fire-controlled computers.


  1. Question: The Chinese radar and avionics here, are they using US made semiconductor chips? like TI Texas Instruments special chips for radar? for motor control?

  2. One thing for sure : JF-17 block.3 is set to use the KLJ-7A AESA radar. J-10C uses this too and, during Falcon Strike drills with Thailand, J-10C was no match for RTAF’s Gripen-C while this one is “only” fit with the PS-05/A PESA radar and, at the time of the drills, Tha Gripens only had AMRAAMs and Sidewnders as AAMs. Since Gripen was not as good in WVR while having a tremendous advantage in BVR, RTAF has replaced the Sidewnder with IRIS-T and actually, the Meteor LRAAM is on order. Note that j-10C improved the PLAAF’s results while J-10A/B and J-11A were pure disasters… KLJ-7A is also the FC-31’s radar.
    The fact is you better have a good PESA than a bad AESA, the PS-05/A simply outranging the KLJ-7A. Even if new Chinese PL-15 and PL-21 AAMs are said having very long ranges, these might be subject to the limitations of either the fighter’s radar, or the Chinese AWACS+air defense radars and their networking.

    No surprise maintenance costs are high : JF-17 uses [China-licensed] Russian Klimov RD-93, an “on steroids” version of RD-33, the MiG-29’s engine. Using a MiG-29 already costs $27,000 per hour, so don’t expect JF-17 falling under $13.5k/h, and it’s likely more, especially since Russians warned that the on-steroids version would have shorter MTBO and shorter lifespan. RD-33 already is under 1000h between overhauls and lifespan is no more than 4000h. For RD-93, you can be sure that MTBO is likely around 600-800h at best and lifespan has been made public by Klimov with 2200 hours…

    For sure the Chinese Link-17 can’t be integrated to… NATO’s Link-16, so Russian datalinks cannot too… Letting them access to source codes would allow them to hack NATO!!!
    Thus, Link-16 is an old cow, there are already more advanced datalinks around for a while, but there is a lot of legacy gear using Link-16, so it would cost big to upgrade these, Link-16 will be used until most of this legacy gear has retired, Link 22 has already near fully replaced older Link-11 and complements Link-16 with more serious data transfer, Link-16 replacement is already planned : you will often hear about “Big-Data” when the subject is considered because it’s supposed to be really huge…

  3. @Mshna :
    AFAIK, US fighters’ radars like APG-77 (F-22) or APG-81 (F-35) use T/R modules made by Northrop-Grumman, not by TI. AESA radars don’t use motors. Old US radars motors were often controlled by opto-resistances, often from the Vactec company, these were also very common in vacuum-tubes consumer electronics (high-end HiFi, guitar-amps, broadcast radio emitters) and copies are still made (at high price) for these high-end purposes (before the generalization of solid state electronics, everything used vacuum tubes, thus, these have a great advantage : they’re not affected by EMP… but systems are huge : some vacuum tube computers were as large as a basketball field with less computing power than a ZX-81).
    Considering the KJL-7A/AESA range being about 3 quarters of the Erickson’s PS-05/A which is a PESA, it’s very dubious that PRC could access APG-77 or APG-81 T/R modules which are ITAR restricted and Pakistan wasn’t greeted any ITAR certificate for such technology…

    As long as PRC doesn’t lays its hands on RBE-2/AESA, any way, we’re OK : a T/R modules on the Thales radar do the job of two Northrop-Grumman ones… Guess why Raytheon insisted so much at creating a JV with Thales to build radars together, moreover, using EU-made parts, Raytheon so can operate markets where they wouldn’t get ITAR certificates… Nevertheless, Pakistan is nowhere near to gain access to Thales stuff : they’re on French blacklist due to unacceptable behaviors, moreover, France and India have entered a very strong strategic partnership that bans export of advanced military technologies to PakChin


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