Let us look a bit deeper than the usual news. 50 JF-17 thunders to Pakistan on ‘emergency’ basis flashed across the local Pakistani media. Online communities responded quickly with intense discussion on what exactly is the timeline behind the word ‘emergency’.
As is with the poor defense journalism in South Asia. We first heard that the 50 planes are going to be provided merely in weeks. That is very unrealistic. Only now some more believable time line is pouring out of the news. Pakistani defense minister Ahmad Mukthar has said 50 JFTs could take up to 6 months to be delivered. This sounds a lot more realistic, I would still take it with a little bit of caution.
The price of JF-17s have also moved into $20-25m range, up from $15-20m. These are the figures quoted by the defense minister while he was comparing the price with that of F-16 Falcons, which he mentioned was $80m a piece.
We have some news reports suggesting that the aircrafts will have upgraded avionics. Other sources in defense communities have added weight to this news as well. We do not yet know the exact nature of the upgrades nor are we 100% certain if there would be any upgrades at all.
It has also been reported that this batch is in addition to the current batch that is being assembled in Pakistan.
Pakistan air force will have atleast 80 JF-17 thunders by the end of this year. A significant boost to its strength.
All this news raises some questions:
1. What exactly are the avionics upgrades? We’ve heard about a newer radar from less than main-stream sources. Lets wait and watch. Is there going to be IRST?
2. JF-17s that are being assembled in Pakistan right now, will they include the avionics upgrades or will they maintain the present configuration?
3. Will the new JF-17s incorporate changes to reduce RCS? We’ve heard that stealthier version of JF-17 is under development. Is this it?
4. What are the other changes in the newer batch?
Your thoughts? feel free to correct me.