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Parting shot: PAF inducts JF-17 Block III aircraft

The Block III version of the Pakistan-China-developed JF-17 fighter aircraft includes several improvements over earlier aircraft, according to the Pakistan Air Force. (Janes)

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has started to induct into service the latest version of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC)/Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) JF-17 ‘Thunder' fighter aircraft.

The PAF said in mid-November that the new Block III aircraft provides the PAF with several improved capabilities over the earlier Block II version. These include, it said, “superior manoeuvrability, extended range, and enhanced combat capabilities”.

Other enhancements include a reduction in the aircraft's radar cross-section, a result of greater use of composites, and improved avionics. State-run broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said in September the aircraft has also been equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

This radar system appears to be the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronics Technology (NRIET) KLJ-7A X-band airborne 3D fire-control radar (FCR). The Block II version is equipped with the KLJ-7 V2.

According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), the KLJ-7 V2 radar can detect an aircraft with a radar cross-section of 3 m 2 at a range of 150 km. CCTV claimed the KLJ-7A radar has improved multitargeting capability, increased resilience to jamming, and greater range. This supports a previous statement from the NRIET that the KLJ-7A has a maximum range of 170 km. However, the NRIET statement is possibly in reference to a target aircraft with a radar cross-section of 5 m².

An initial JF-17 Block III aircraft (serial no 22-305) was seen during the Pakistan Day military parade over Islamabad on 23 March. However, the aircraft lacked squadron insignia.

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