The JF-17 Thunder for the Philippine Air Force?

A JF-17 Thunder of the Pakistani Air Force showing its planform. Photo courtesy of RA.AZ thru Flickr.

During the campaign period for the 2016 Presidential elections, one joke I would occasionally come out with on my page went something like, “oh don’t worry, if Rodrigo Duterte becomes President, our Air Force would eventually end up with the JF-17 Thunder as its Multi-Role Fighter (MRF), ha-ha-ha”.

And then the May 2016 elections came, and he won. By a fricking landslide. Five months into the new administration, in December 2016 Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a newspaper interview that they were looking at importing weapons from Pakistan where the JF-17 is currently being made.1 Note that Dominguez is also one of Duterte’s closest advisers, being a childhood friend and former classmate.2 So the jokes came out again.

And finally, recently an article from a Brazilian website confirmed the existence of a lobby group that is seeking to acquire the JF-17 for the Philippines.3 So it seems that the thing that I kept making fun of could be coming closer and closer to reality, and I thought it is time to come up with this blog.

’Bring on the Thunder’
You gotta give credit the Pakistanis and Chinese to come up with quite a catchy name, the “Thun-durr”, although a bit optimistic since it is a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). An LCA with quite a strong and intimidating name. A couple of past and present western aircraft has been named “Lightning”, but no, this is not just “lightning”, this is the “THUNDER”.

Anyway, the JF-17 is single-engine, supersonic multi-role aircraft that first flew in 2003. It was derived from the Chinese made J-7 aircraft which is a licensed copy of the then Soviet Union’s MIG-21 Fishbed fighter aircraft. The JF-17 is made by a joint venture of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and the Chinese company Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC).

The Pakistani Air Force is currently its main operator, with Myanmar and Nigeria buying it in smaller numbers. The Thunder is also known as the FC-1 Xiaolong in China, with Xiaolong meaning “Fierce Dragon” (another very optimistic name for an LCA).

It is combat tested, having seen action in the Waziristan region of Pakistan by bombing militant positions there, and has even shot down an Iranian drone near Pakistan’s border with Iran.

The current production version of the JF-17 is the Block 2 (Blk 2), and there is a Block 3 (Blk 3) version coming up, although no complete configuration for that has been released yet as of now.

I have decided to compare below the Thunder with a couple of aircraft which I feel is relevant to us, starting with our own FA-50PH Fighting Eagle; The JF-17’s main LCA rival, India’s Tejas Mk 1 which is the current version that is already flying; and the JAS-39E Gripen NG, just so we can see how it compares to a heavier MRF and which also is reportedly a favorite of the Philippine Air Force.

’WVR Capability’4 5 6 7
Below is the comparison of some characteristics and the Within Visual Range (WVR) or “Close Range” combat capability of each aircraft based on their Avionics, Weapons and Performance:

Characteristics: The Thunder has around the same weight as the FA-50PH and Tejas, while the Gripen NG is set apart by being heavier by around 2-3,000 kg and faster by around 0.4 Mach.

Performance: The JF-17 has better Wing Loading and Thrust to Weight (TTW) ratio than the FA-50PH and Gripen NG, but not as good as that of the Tejas which beats all aircraft in terms of performance.

However, the JF-17 only has a Hybrid (i.e., partly mechanical) Fly by Wire (FBW) flight control system which means it will be harder to fly at the edge of its performance envelope compared to the other aircraft with full FBW systems.

So that evens things out with the FA-50PH. A newer version of the Thunder, the JF-17B is already flying with full FBW capability,8 but no confirmation yet if full FBW will also be incorporated into the Blk 3 version.

WVR Weapons and Avionics: The Thunder is hampered by the lack of a Helmet Mounted Sight (HMS) and High Off Boresight Missiles (HOBM) compared to the Tejas and Gripen NG, although this will reportedly be corrected on their Blk 3 version.

It does have a higher caliber and faster firing cannon than the FA-50PH, though. The Gripen NG has the most powerful and longest ranged cannon among the four, but it also has the slowest rate of fire.

Overall: In terms of WVR capability, I would put the JF-17 as slightly better than the FA-50PH because of its better gun, but less than the Tejas or the Gripen NG.

’BVR Capability’
Below is the comparison of the Beyond Visual Range (WVR) or “Long Range” combat capability of each aircraft based on their Avionics and Weapons:9 10

BVR Weapons and Avionics: Here the Thunder trumps the Tejas and FA-50PH because it has longer ranged radar and missile (at least on paper). The Gripen NG theoretically has the best radar, although this is just an estimate as no fairly reliable data of the exact range of its Raven ES-05A Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar is currently available. The Gripen also has the best BVR weapon and has a built in Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) system.

’Payload and Range’
Below is the comparison of the Payload of each aircraft based on full internal fuel, and a rough calculation of their range using the Internal Fuel Fraction (IntFF, the ratio of the weight of the internal fuel of the aircraft compared to its maximum take-off weight):

Payload and Range: The Thunder ends up at bottom in terms of Payload since it carries 800 kg less than the Tejas. The FA-50PH and Gripen NG can carry significally more payload.

Range of the JF-17 is expected to be about the same as the Tejas and FA-50PH, but the fact that it has aerial refueling capability makes it better than both. And here the Gripen NG pulls away from the pack with an expected longer range and having the best payload among all four aircraft.

’Operational Record’
One good thing about the JF-17 is that, like the T-50/FA-50 family of aircraft, it has been in service for awhile in respectable numbers, so we can have a good look at its operational history. It was commissioned into service with the Pakistani Air Force in 2007, and currently they have around 70 aircraft in service.11 So far I could only find two crashes of the JF-17 as reported thru major news organizations: One in 2011,12 and another one in 2016.13

In contrast, even after more than three decades of development, the Tejas is still nowhere near full operational status. It seems that they will now be skipping full production of the Mk 1 and will instead enter mass production with the Mk 1A, but that will only happen in 2021.14 And this is assuming that there won’t be any more delays with that program.

’Large Weapons Options’
Another good thing about the JF-17 is that it is currently already qualified for a wide array of weapons made by a couple of countries.15 Aside from the Air to Air Missiles (AAM) mentioned above, other Chinese advanced weapons that it can use include the C-802AK long range subsonic Anti-Ship Missile (AShM), the CM-400AKG long range supersonic AShM and LS-series of Satellite/Inertial Navigation System (INS)/Electro Optical (EO)/Infra Red (IR) guided bombs.

It can also use some American weapons like the AIM-9L/M Sidewinder AAMs, GBU-10/12 Laser Guided Bombs (LGB) and Mk 8 Series of unguided General Purpose (GP) Bombs. It is also qualified for the MAR-1 Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM) made by Brazil for use against Radars.

And of course it can also use Pakistani smart weapons like the Hafr-2/4 Stand Off Weapon (SOW) EO/IR guided glide bombs and Haft-VIII/Ra’ad land-attack Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM).

On the other hand, our FA-50PH are only qualified for less than a handful of American missiles/smart weapons. Some weapons manufacturers like Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd and Europe’s Taurus Systems GmbH are offering integration of more advanced weapons for the FA-50,16 17 but none has materialized yet and their integration will incur additional time, money and effort.

’Engine Weakness’
One big weakness of Russian and Chinese fighter aircraft though are their engines and airframes, they are not always as durable as that of western aircraft. The Russian Klimov RD-93 that the JF-17 uses, for example, needs to be overhauled (i.e., removed from the aircraft, taken apart for examination and then make repairs or replacements as necessary) after every 600 hours of operation.

The Chinese Guizhou WS-13 engine which is an alternative for use with the JF-17 is even worst, requiring overhaul after only 300 hours.18 The General Electric (GE) F404 engine that our FA-50PH uses on the other hand requires no routine overhaul requirement, it can be inspected while attached to the aircraft using borescopes thru ports located around the engine.

It also has a In-flight Engine Computer Monitoring System (IECMS) that monitors for malfunctions and keeps track of the lifetime of the parts. It also alerts the crew of any issues, and parts are then replaced as needed, or when they reach their recommended service life.19

The Total Engine Life (i.e., total number of hours in operation before the entire engine needs to be replaced) of the RD-93 is also only 1,300 hours, whereas that of the F404 is 4,000 hours.20

’A Better Engine’
The RD-93 engine does have an Electronic Engine Controller (EEC), but this is a step below the Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) on the F404 engine. The difference between the two is that EEC is only concerned with controlling the engine, and it not fully automated, the pilot can still intervene manually with the engine if he or she wants to.

FADEC on the other hand is a wider system where the EEC is just one function of it, with other functions including Diagnostics Checks and Data Collection. And it is fully automated, meaning the computer has total control of all of the engine’s functions.21 Think of it as like a FBW system, but instead of the flight controls, it applies to the engine.

There is a version of the RD-93 that has FADEC, the RD-33MK Sea Wasp which is used on the MIG-29K Fulcrum aircraft. It has slightly more thrust, has a better Time Between Overhaul (TBO) of 1,000 hours and a better lifespan of 4,000 hours.22

Pakistan is considering getting the RD-33MK for their JF-17,23 although nothing concrete has been done so far in that direction. In case our Air Force considers getting the JF-17, then they should push for such an engine. It may increase the cost of the acquisition, but I think it will be worth it.

‘Airframe Life’
The airframe of the JF-17 itself is not so durable with a service life only 3,000 operating hours before it is in need of an overhaul. The FA-50PH’s airframe on the other hand, is rated at more than three times as much with a service life of 10,000 operating hours.24

So assuming an average of 400 Flight Hours (FH) of use per aircraft per year, then that means that the JF-17 will require an engine overhaul every one and a half years; Engine replacement every three years; and airframe overhaul every seven and a half years of operation.

For the same average FHs for the FA-50PH, it will need an engine replacement only after ten years, and airframe overhaul every 25 years.

’Political Issues’
The biggest issue with the JF-17 though may not be related to its capability or anything technical in nature, but more on the political circumstances surrounding it. There are some in the government who have a deep, deep hatred for China because of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue, and thus will oppose any adoption of Chinese equipment like the Thunder.

Their resistance can take the form of constantly finding ways to look and find faults in the operation of the aircraft. And there is also the issue of Duterte himself. Right now he is friendly to China and China in turn is very friendly to the Philippines, allowing our fishermen access to the WPS, providing weapons and grants/loans.

But as President, Duterte only has a limited, fixed term in power and thus the question will be what will happen to purchases like the JF-17 if the next sitting President will insist on China leaving the WPS, just like PNoy did. If that happens, then tensions with China will make it very difficult to maintain an aircraft like the JF-17 which will need spare parts from China’s joint venture with Pakistan.

’Other Observations’
The JF-17 is a good aircraft with good features, but it is inferior in terms of payload and range when compared to the heavier MRFs out there like the Gripen NG, F-16C Fighting Falcon or any of the Flanker family of aircraft. Hence we should go after those better aircraft as much as possible if we can afford them.

It may be possible to put most of the JF-17’s features on a new version of the FA-50PH like air to air refueling, BVR capability, HMS and HOBM, but that will increase the weight of the aircraft and thereby affecting its performance further, which is already less than the JF-17 right now. And the added internal weight will also lessen the FA-50PH’s external payload.

There is also the issue of FA-50PH’s co-developer Lockheed Martin (LM) which may be “nerfing” (i.e. intentionally making less capable) the FA-50PH so it won’t compete directly with their beloved F-16C aircraft which they are still producing. I think at best is that LM will allow some additional features to future versions of the FA-50PH … but not too much, it still won’t be at the same level as the JF-17.

’For the Philippines?’
Despite being a decent aircraft with some advantages and nice features, I think that the current production JF-17 Blk 2 aircraft is not suited to be our main fighter aircraft ahead of the FA-50PH. True, compared to the FA-50PH it has better performance in WVR combat, better guns, more weapons options and it has air to air refueling and BVR capability.

But to get those, we will need to trade down to a lesser payload, less advanced hybrid FBW system and engine (which requires more maintenance and more frequent replacement), and less durable airframe. A worthwhile version of the JF-17 for us I think would be one that retains all of the advantages of the Blk 2 version, but with a full FBW system, an RD-33MK engine (with FADEC, longer TBO and engine life); an HMS and an HOBM.

The Blk 3 version is promising, but up to now we still don’t know exactly what goes into to such a version. An initial set of specifications was released, but it is not complete.25

And even if the Blk 3 version is finalized, it may not necessarily have all the features that we might want, and it won’t solve all of the issues of the JF-17 like less payload and less airframe life.

On top of that, there is opposition within the government itself of getting such a Chinese made weapon, and the long term sustainment of the aircraft’s maintenance depends on our ability to maintain a friendly relationship with China beyond Duterte’s term, which may or may not happen.

’Parting Shot’
The JF-17 to me embodies the typical Russian and Chinese mentality when it comes to military equipment in that it may lack some advanced features, but it is effective, it works, it does its job well for the missions it is assigned to.

But it can do those jobs only in the short term before it is in need of parts overhaul or replacement. For our Air Force, I think the JF-17 will be facing an uphill battle. If we do decide to get it though, we will have to live with some of its compromises and risks.

China does have another single engine fighter aircraft out there, the J-10 Firebird which is better, but it still won’t solve all of the JF-17’s issues, and it is a bit more expensive.

A right side view of a JF-17 Thunder of the Pakistani Air Force. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Philippines mulls defense asset imports from Pakistan,
  2. Who’s who in Duterte’s Inner Circle,
  3. Exportação de Super Tucanos para as Filipinas pode ser quadruplicada (tudo depende Dele…),
  4. JF-17 Aircraft,
  5. KAI FA-50,
  6. Technology Focus Vol. 1, No. 1 – LCA Tejas,
  7. Gripen E in Brief,
  8. JF-17B prototype reportedly nearing maiden test flight,
  9. Smarter (and Simpler) Radar in Harpoon, (
  10. KLJ-7/10 Fire Control Radar (FCR) (China), Airborne radar systems,
  11. Pakistan Formally Equips Fifth JF-17 Squadron,
  12. DUBAI: JF-17 crashes in Pakistan’s Kamra,
  13. PAF JF-17 crashes into Arabian Sea,
  14. With 83 Tejas MK1A orders in the kitty, Can HAL deliver or will ADA catch up with Tejas MK2?,
  15. FC-1 “Chao Qi” / JF-17 Thunder Specifications,
  16. Philippines looks to greatly expand airpower capabilities,
  17. Taurus seeks to supply long-range missiles on Korea’s FA-50, (
  18. JF-17 Thunder – a road to operational maturity,
  19. Engine Condition Monitoring System for the Canadian Forces F404-GE-400 Engine,
  20. KN5-1 Reducing Military Aircraft Engine Development Cost through Modeling and Simulation,
  21. Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC),
  22. RD-33MK,
  23. Pakistan might consider the Klimov RD-33MK for JF-17,
  24. T-50 Golden Eagle, South Korea,
  25. Pakistan Inches Closer to JF-17 Block-III,

64 thoughts on “The JF-17 Thunder for the Philippine Air Force?”

  1. The reality here is that the Philippines can’t afford any new Fighter coming from Europe or America. There only hope rest on either making a deal with France on taking the used Mirage 2000’s off their hands. Going to Russia for either the MIG-35 or SU-35 or make a Deal with Israel on getting the used F-16 A/B netz or IAI Kfir block 60. Though I do think the JF-17 will be very viable for the Philippines and that is because the Philippines needs to realize that China has no intention of operating the JF-17. All China did was give it to Pakistan and helped them get their Aviation industry off the ground. It’s why China will never operate the JF-17. So it’s why I think the JF-17 block 2 would be a better option for the Philippines and would give them a low cost fighter. Also I believe you forgot about David Axe’s article on the JF-17 as well and here’s the link

    1. rubbish! it doesnt matter whether china intends to operate it or not, the issue is that they can make it’s maintainance and support very difficult or even impossible for us should tension or open conflict erupts over the WPS. doesnt matter if production is with pakistan, china still has heavy influence over them

      1. Not as much, Pakistan has the blueprints and it’s own parts manufacturing. All China get’s a percentage of royalties from any sale that Pakistan makes on the JF-17. Which is why China has no interest in operating the JF-17. They simply handed Pakistan the Know-how and technical support in design, construction and manufacturing of the JF-17. Since china had a hand at building the JF-17, they get a percentage of royalties from all the JF-17 sales that Pakistan makes off of the JF-17. Which is why some Senior PLAAF officials have stated that they don’t intend to operate the Fighter but use it to help countries like Pakistan develop their own Aviation industry.

    2. this is already an outdated article publish in 2014. when this article was publish the f-35 potential as a dog fighter was still obscure but presently we have known that the f-35 not only it is stealth but it is capable to dog fighter. unlike other fighters including su-30s/35s and other 4th generation fighters if fully armed it cannot reached its potential for a mach speed and maneuvers due too much drag cause by the weapons hanging on its external pylons . but the f-35 even fully armed (thanks to the internal weapons bay) can still operate near its maximum speed and maneuvers. further, in a dog fight you cannot compare the jf-17 to the f-35. jf-17 lack of helmet mounted sight and high angle off-bores sight missiles is no contest against the f-35.

      the reality we can afford to buy 4th generation MRFs. last 2012 the philippines extended $1 billion loan to the IMF to bail out the financial crisis in europe. we are rich my friend. question, no one ever asked what happened to that $1 billion. if we have earned interest or gain profit on it. where is it now? is it still with the IMF or it is back in the central bank. that $1 billion is more than enough to buy 12 MRFs for the philippine air force for our external defense.

      1. BS, the Philippine economy is very poor and on top of that you have corrupt politicians that are as bad as Ukraine. The sad fact and REALITY here is that the Philippines can’t afford any new MODERN MRF coming from Europe or USA. Even the JAS-39 Gripen C/D & E/F and the Block 50/52 F-16 is unaffordable to the Philippines. The Maintenance cost alone will put the Gripen and Falcon out of the reach of the Philippines.

        On top of that I doubt Sweden will sell the Gipen to a country that has very questionable HUMAN RIGHTS record and any Military gear that Sweden sells, has a Democracy clause in their Contract. So that’s why European Union may put pressure on Sweden not to sell to the Philippines due to DU30’s policies. Which is why the JF-17 is one option in case Sweden caves into European Union pressure.

        Which is why IMO, the JF-17 should be at the top of the List for the Philippines due to the low cost. Though I believe used F-16 A/B Netz from Israel is a 2nd option. The third would be a used Mirage 2000 from France and the last resort options are a 40 yr old IAI Kfir Block 60 or source from Russia such as the MIG-29, MIG-35, SU-30 or SU-35.

  2. we have to stick with reliable equipment that will include jet fighters. top in the shopping list, jas gripen and f-16 block 50/52. both fighters can will serve our needs. how about just initially buy half of a squadron now and 1 or 2 years later another half squadron as not to strain so much in our budget. we should follow the example of Thailand that they planned for 18 jas gripen but initially acquire only 11 and Malaysia only bought 8 f-18s.

    the 12 fa-50s are already here. to add up initially 6 or 8 jas gripen or f-16s block 50/52 at least we could already gain respect from the other air forces. that is the most important deterrent RESPECT.

  3. With a shorter lifespan for both engine and airframe, and with inferior firepower overall compared to the Jas Gripen or any other Western-manufactured MRF, the JF-17 will be a virtual waste of money for a country with a very low defense budget like ours. And, right, political complications in the post-Duterte administration might defang the JF-17, if we ever get to a “screaming relationship” anew with Beijing. Better to have four Jas Gripens or F-16s than a full squadron of JF-17s, if you ask me. At least you’ve got value for money there.

  4. the fa-50 price is within $35m to $38m each or 12 fa-50s is $456m to $460m. the price of jas gripen and f-16 block 50/52 is almost the same in the range of $60m per plane. if we buy half of a squadron, 6 planes of jas gripen or f-16 it will only cost as $360m but now we have already a legitimate MRF. and maybe after 1 or 2 years spend another $360m for another 6 MRFs we have now a full of squadron of 12 MRFs in addition to the 12 fa-50s that we now have. if we start buying half of the squadron of MRFs in 2018 by 2020 we can have the minimum requirement of 24 combat planes composed of 12 fa-50s and 12 MRFS either jas gripen or f-16 block 50/52.

  5. Again, the jas gripen and f-16 is still our best option. India one of the major users of migs and SUs have already experience high cost of maintenance of their russian made combat planes including their newer SU-30s. Thats why instead buying additional SU-30s and SU-35s, they already ordered rafales from france and seriously considering the newest f-16 block 70. That alone we have to consider what our best option. We must not be speculative of our poitions. Just deal directly with the countries we have the preference to buy our MRFs. Whether is in the u.s. or europe we must first transact and later take the other options if these countries will not allow us to buy their planes.

  6. The only real option for the Philippines in terms of getting a MRF is to seriously talk to France on taking the used Dassault Mirage 2000 or the Dassault Mirage F1. Getting the modernized Mirage 2000 from France will be faster and France is looking to replace them so they can get more Rafales. It would represent a viable option for the Philippines and it would be far cheaper and faster than getting a new MRF.

  7. if getting second hand MRF is the only option better get an f-16 because it is more compatible to the FA-50. remember the FA-50 is a smaller version of the F-16. pilots trained in the FA-50 can easily get acquainted with the F-16s. Second hand F-16 block 50/52 maybe has similar price with the modernized Mirage 2000.

    1. Ayaw ni Duterte ng sikanhan. The best bet for me is the JAS-39D Gripen since Saab is willing to reopen their production lines for that daw. I prefer the D or two seat version for our Multi Role Fighter aircraft.

      1. I don’t know if Sweden is willing to sell the JAS-39 Gripen to a country that has a questionable Human rights record. The EU may put pressure on Sweden not to sell the Gripen to the Philippines and if that’s the case then a Mirage 2000 or Used F-16 A/B netz from Israel is the only option.

    2. I would say getting 2nd hand Mirage 2000 in the Mirage 2000-5 Mark 2 and the Mirage 2000D bersions would be at the top of the list, mainly because you don’t have to deal with the US Government and getting permission to buy any US Made MRF, New or used. On top of that France is trying to replace many of the Mirage 2000’s with Rafale’s and it would make logical sense if you want a MRF without any strings or political conditions attached to them. The Mirage 2000 would plug and play nice with America and that the Mirage 2000 is compatible with Nato

      As for getting JAS-39 Gripens, that may be a dicey issue because Sweden has a Democracy clause in any Military sale and with the Philippines and their record of Human rights issues, that may become a sticking point for the Philippines. So the unless the Philippines can clean up it’s Human rights record, the JAS-39 Gripen looks to be a really LONG SHOT.

      As for F-16’s, I know Israel retired their F-16 A/B Netz and that is one option the Philippines can make a grab but that all hinges on how well they play Nice to the US Government and how nice is the US Government is willing to allow Israel to sell the used F-16 A/B Netz to the Philippines.

  8. If the Philippines thinks they can get F-16’s, be careful what you ask for because the US Govt might not give you what you want. Case in point, look at Iraq’s F-16’s for example. Iraq paid $4.2 billion for 36 block 52 F-16’s but their weapons on the other hand are stuck in the 1990’s era. That’s because Iraq’s Neighbors have F-16’s and don’t want to create a competitive stalemate in the region. Now what IRAQ is getting is what the Philippines could get, if they afford it and here’s the list
    36 F-16IQ aircraft,
    —24 F100-PW-229 or F110-GE-129 Increased Performance Engines,
    —36 LAU-129/A Common Rail Launchers,
    —24 APG-68(V)9 radar sets,
    —19 M61 20mm Vulcan Cannons,
    —200 AIM-9L/M-8/9 Sidewinder Missiles,
    —150 AIM-7M-F1/H SPARROW Missiles,
    —50 AGM-65D/G/H/K MAVERICK Air-to-Ground Missiles,
    —200 GBU-12 PAVEWAY II Laser Guided Bomb Units (500 pound),
    —50 GBU-10 PAVEWAY II Laser Guided Bomb Units (2000 pound),
    —50 GBU-24 PAVEWAY III Laser Guided Bomb Units (2000 pound),
    —22 Advanced Countermeasures Electronic Systems (ACES) (ACES includes the ALQ-187 Electronic Warfare System and AN/ALR-93 Radar Warning Receiver),
    —20 AN/APX-113 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) Systems (without Mode IV),
    —20 Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Embedded GPS/Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), (Standard Positioning Service (SPS) commercial code only),
    —20 AN/AAQ-33 SNIPER or AN/AAQ-28 LITENING Targeting Pods,
    —4 F-9120 Advanced Airborne Reconnaissance Systems (AARS) or DB-110 Reconnaissance Pods (RECCE),
    —22 AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing Systems (CMDS);
    —20 Conformal Fuel Tanks (pairs).
    The question here is, Can the Philippines come up with $4.2 Billion dollars that Iraq paid for their F-16IQ’s.

  9. whether we buy f-16s, jas gripen or any other MRFs the best solution is to buy them in a piecemeal manner (half a squadron in a per schedule of purchase) until we could have a full squadron. again, i made an example of thailand and malaysia. thailand planned for 18 jas gripen but only purchased 11 and malaysia only bought 8 f-18s.

    if we speculate too much about problems why we cannot get our MRFs then simply the result we will have no MRFs.

    we can even lend to IMF $1 billion during the 2012 european financial crisis, that amount is more than enough to buy more than 1 squadron of MRFs in one time purchase. At that time our central bank even boast we have enough dollar reserves so we dont have to worry we lend to IMF $1 billion.

    we can really afford specially if we will do it in a piecemeal purchase.

      1. IMO, I think Flankers and Fulcrums are a better option for the Philippines. Look at Vietnam for instance, they brought Flankers including the transfer of tech to repair, refurbish and even build spare parts for them. At least with Russia, you get what you pay for.

    1. Well, if you look at how much brazil paid for their Gripens, Brazil paid 39.3 billion SEK (US$5.44 bn, R$13 bn) contract for 28 Gripen E and 8 Gripen F aircraft. At that prices, I don’t think the Philippines are in NO position to afford the Gripen at Brazilian prices. Thailand on the other hand paid 34 billion baht (US$1.1 billion) for 6 Gripen’s and 2 SAAB 340 AEW. So as you can see, the Gripen is basically unaffordable to the Philippines, even with a loan from the IMF, it still won’t cover the cost for Spares, salaries, Maintenance and the cost to fly it. That’s why for the Philippines, a used Mirage 2000 is more better than a Gripen. It would have left over money to pay the salaries for the crews and enough for spare parts to start their own manufacturing line.

      1. The cheapest right now for the Philippines is somewhere between a JF-17, Mirage 2000/Mirage F-1 or used F-16 A/B NETZ or Kfir Block 60. Though I think the Philippines can quickly get the used Mirage 2000/Mirage F-1’s mainly because it skirts the US Govt Approval process and France is willing to unload the Mirage 2000 or Mirage F-1. Though the F-16 A/B Netz is possible from Israel, that all hinges on how nice the US Govt is in allowing Israel to resell the F-16’s the Philippines. If they can’t then the Philippines should ask France if they can take the used Mirage 2000 off their hands.

  10. india has one of he most advance su-30S and hundreds of them are in their air force. but unfortunately experience hundreds of investigations of engine failures. thats why they stop their purchase of additional su-30s and su-35s. instead they bought rafales from france.

  11. it is already a go for india for the rafales. a contract have already been signed for 36 rafales to be delivered to india. however, instead pursuing for more than 100 rafales due to cost, India is considering for a single engine fighter either the jas gripen or the newest version of the f-16.

  12. maybe there are question of irregularities but it would not stop the contract since it is already signed and the manufacture of the jets is already in progressed. it need the act of their parliament to void the contract if found glaring irregularities. but for sure india will have second thoughts or might no longer add SU-30s or SU-35 in its inventory after a very bad experience of its engines. same with us, the purchase of the fa-50s has been questioned due to alleged overpriced but it did not stopped the deliveries.

  13. if ever we can already have at least 1 squadron of MRF hope the government will now look for the plan a couple anti-aircraft missile batteries and land based anti-ship missiles.

    1. The reality here is that, the Philippines can’t afford anything coming from Europe or America in terms of New Fighters. Their only options are between a JF-17, Used Mirage 2000 or a Russian, SU-30, SU-35, SU-27 or MIG-35. You seem to not see how Military Budget works and don’t understand that getting an MRF is one thing, but paying the Pilot, Aircrews to maintain the MRF, Training cost, Weapons cost, stockpiling on spare parts and paying to maintain an MRF is gona be very costly. It’s why with the very TIGHT BUDGET the Philippines have and the fact that Most countries won’t do business with the Philippines due to their questionable Human Rights record. The only option for the Philippines is between a JF-17 to a Used Mirage 2000 or a Russian, SU-30, SU-35, SU-27 or MIG-35. IMO, I think the JF-17 should be at the top of the List, with Russia coming in number two and France coming in number 3. because it skirts the American approval process and that America may not let the Philippines buy things because of their questionable Human rights record.

  14. What is your opinion if the Philippines were to ask the US Navy if they can take the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet C/D off the US Navy’s hands. I know the US Navy is transitioning to F/A-18 Super Hornets and the Philippines can grab the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet C/D’s from them as well. It would bring the Philippines up to the 1980’s and 1990’s era and it would give them a MRF.

    1. Lots of Hornets crashing over the last year or so, I think 11. I posted it on my page a couple of weeks ago, so not too optimistic about the Hornets right now.

  15. The hornets is one of the most used fighters in the u.s. arsenal so buying them second hand will be costly in maintenance. again, our govt is going for brand new fighters. although brand new will cost much but in the long run is much cheaper than buying second hand. my suggestion of buying in piece meal (half squadron) until we have funds to complete a squadron will be the best alternative.

    1. Going new may not be the Philippines best option because Going new from Europe is going to be costly and can come with political strings attached to them. On the other hand, going new from Russia is a better option and I believe the MIG-35, SU-30SME or the SU-35 is the Philippines only option for New Fighters.

      1. poorer countries have better air force than us….this depends on the political will..if our intention is to get modern weapons for sure we could have it including MRFs. we are able to order 2 brand new and state of the art frigates from korea. so there is no reason why we cannot project to buy modern MRFs even half of the squadron initially. remember buying weapons is still business that is for us to pursue and in what govt or country. if the ISIS were able to get a hand of anti tank weapons, anti-aircraft missiles and etc. why we cannot get it. the good news sweden is interested to deal with us in this aspect. and sweden is different from other european countries it decides independently thats why they produce their own weapons and most important sweden is not a NATO member it cannot be dictated by holy cows of NATO.

      2. The reality here is that Poor countries can buy Military gear because they don’t prioritize needless crap. On top of that, I think your pride is getting in the way of Reality. The fact here is that the Philippines is as poor as most African and South American countries and is as Corrupt as the Ukraines. At least with African and South American countries, they don’t care if the weapon is made from China, Russia, Europe or America. It’s something better than Nothing at all. On top of that African and South American countries don’t beg other countries to supply Military gear. They go out and buy what they can afford and what’s within their BUDGET. That’s something the Philippines are still not learning and are not gona realize it, until the first missiles start coming from China.

  16. What do you think of this as an Idea, what if the Philippines can make a Deal with France on the Mirage 2000’s or Israel with the used F-16 A/B Netz.

  17. that’s why we need to make the first step in order to learn. Now, were learning…buying modern frigatesfrom korea is not a small deal. the cost of two new frigates alone including its weaponry, technology and softwares can already afford for one (1) squadron of brand new MRFs. definitely we are learning to negotiate for brand new weaponry. we do it at a time, then we can now consider for MRFs. the first step try to have at least half a squadron of brand new MRF. after doing it another half of a squadron.

  18. the reality we must be proud as filipino. we must not under estimate the resolve of the filipino people. what i said we do it in a piece meal but what is important we have the new equipment and re-arming them will b the next objective.

    but im so scared if we buy unreliable equipment from russia. it was proven in the wars in israel, korea, vietnam, iraq, iran, bosnia, libya and syria. they been shot down just like pigeons. thats how horrible and unreliable russian fighters. india is the first victim for buying so much su 30s which is only second to russia in numbers,now they have problem of maintenance and they bought it brand new. russia propaganda and advertisement of their weapons specially their fighters sucks.

    even in their navy. most of their ships and submarines are on port due to heavy maintenance. during the cold war (when they are still soviet union) they been brandishing their carriers, cruiser, destroyers and submarines around the worlds ocean but the cost almost of their fleet have been scrap. now, one of their aircraft carrier is now with china, same problem costly maintenance.

  19. With All Due Respect , I would like to Point out that you have got many wrong information about Tejas !!

    1 ) You said Tejas dont have Refueling capability , but its already integrated with IFR probe from Cobham .

    2) You said Tejas’s BVR missile is Derby which has less range than JF-17’s main BVR missile which has 70 km range . BUT Tejas already got integrated with I-derby which has 100 km Range .

    3) You said Tejas MK1A will be produced after 2021 .Which is WRONG .Mk-1 order will be fulfilled by 2019 After that MK-1A production will start !! MK-1A will have better features like AESA radar .

    4 ) You said Tejas dont have FOC status yet ,well thats because IAF wanted better configuration requirement for FOC .JF-17’s FOC information was never made public and it was inducted in hurry to fill up numbers for Pakistan .Tejas even in its current Mk-1 standard it better than JF-17 .

    5) You forgot to mention that Tejas has ZERO crashes till now while JF-17 has crashed twice . First time due to engine failure , second was due to wrong info given by flight computers . Second crash was of Brand New JF-17 Block 2 which was given by china to pak recently .It crashed in Arabian sea .

    1. Read the blog again, I was referring to the Tejas Mk 1.

      As for the I-Derby integration, kindly provide the link to your source on this information.

      I provided the link at the bottom of my page about the Mk 1A going into full production in 2021. If you have other information, then provide the link here.

      The Tejas has zero crashes so far because only a few have been built so far, and it hasn’t even gone into full production yet.

      As for the JF-17 Thunder’s crashes, again as I mentioned in my blog, two crashes out of 70 aircraft is a pretty decent record.

      1. 1) I know you referred to Tejas Mk-1 . HAL has integrated IFR probe on LSP-8 Tejas and it will be retrofitted on all IOC standard 20 Tejas Mk-1 to get FOC .In case of JF-17 , PAC/CAC has never made any information on FOC public nor the JF-17 Block-1 Aircraft will have IFR probe retrofitted .

        2) Tejas Mk-1A will be produced from 2019-2020 .Here is the link

        3)Israel has integrated I-derby on Tejas successfully with flight trials scheduled for year end . Here is the link

        Necessary ground tests & software changes were done successfully to integrate I-derby .

        4)JF-17’s crashes cant be neglected by simply saying that out of 70 aircrafts only 2 got crashed . Nor you should try to undermine Tejas’s quality saying it flew less so crashed less . Tejas has spent 2-3 times more hours in tests than JF-17 after it first prototype flight in 2001 !! .Thats because IAF was in no Hurry to induct Tejas in frontline roles . While JF-17 is forming backbone of PAF and one of its frontline fighters . China-Pak set delivery date as Target while IAF chose Quality as target not delivery date . Scope of Tejas program grew greatly because of new requirements coming in from IAF .

        Tejas spent a lot hours in tests from 2001 to 2016 when it was inducted . Its still being improved heavily . And in all these years it never got Crashed which is a major plus specially for those who are aware of how many hours Tejas has spent in test flights .

        JF-17’s first crash was of Block 1 in 2011 after its induction in 2008 due to Engine failure . JF-17’s second crash was of JF-17 Block 2 ,a brand new version which was in testing phase by pakistan’s testing squadron .It crashed due to wrong data shown by JF-17’s chinese navigational computers .I do not think any potential customer who wants value for the money spent can neglect these crashes Specially because of its causes.Crashes can happen because of pilot-error too but these both crashes show there is some defect in Russian engines ( as experienced by India in Su-30 & Mig-21 case ) and there is an issue with navigational computers of JF-17.

      2. I never said the JF-17 Thunder Blk 1 will have IFR, clearly I wrote in my blog that I was evaluating the JF-17 Blk 2, so I don’t know where the hell you are coming from.

        The link you provided for the Tejas Mk 1 production is cut, I can’t see what’s written there. On the other hand, the link I provided on my blog is available for everyone to see.

        I never undermined the Tejas’ quality in terms of crashes, I just said it is just taking so fakking long to get into service.

        Lastly, I am not having any of this India-Pakistan pissing contest here on my blog. I am highlighting the Tejas as I see it, if you want to have it seen in a better light then simply have it do better.

  20. FC-1 / Jf-17 is an all metal plane, with an underpowered engine,not fully fbw and dodgy avionics ,carrying only sub standard Chinese missiles and radar with no scope of significant future improvements given its designer doesn’t even deem it worthy to induct in it’s own air force. Gripen does not have any of these drawbacks ,with the full sensor suit it’s a beast ,Tejas is good but most of its production is going to be diverted to assauge orders from IAF , Gripen does not have any of these commitments so at the moment it seems like a good choice for PAF.

  21. it is only u.s. that supply its customers better fighters than what they have in their inventory. accordingly the israelis f-16s and f-15s, south korea f-15s, japanese f-15s and even india interest of the f-16 block 70 are more advance than the f-15s and f-16s now in the u.s. air force.

    but russia and china are all propaganda and advertisement since the start of the jet age boasted that their fighters are more advance and agile than the western counterparts but since korea, isreali-arab war, vietnam, iraq, iran, bosnia and syria i dont see any success story of the russian made fighters and that will include china because almost of their fighters are copy cat of russia.

    what i only know, after using the migs and su’s in air combat after returning to base it cannot be returned to battle again. these are the experience of the egyptians and syrians during the israeli-arab war. maybe these is also the experience of the iraqis during the iraq war since majority of the migs and sus fighters were caught on the ground. presently india suffered the same fate with their brand new SU-30s a lot of complain about the reliability of its engines

    so let us be warned, including buying ships from russia.

  22. Interesting article, as a Pakistani I thought I would just clarify that the specs for the JF-17 Block 3 were finalised more than a year ago. Therefore its highly likely that it will have a helmet mounted display, High off bore missile and fully digital FBW. Your question of whether it will have a FADEC engine is one I don’t know. I suspect not by default, otherwise it would have been discussed by now. However there is always the possibility that such an engine could be ordered, but again is likely to increase the cost of the plane.

    One area you missed out was that JF-17 Blk 2 does not make use of composites, therefore it has weight it can shed. Blk 3 is to have some use of composites, we don’t have the details yet. So the extent remains to be seen. But it should lead to reduction in weight and therefore changes in the thrust to weight ratio and likely payload and range. But we will see as within 2 years when we can see the real thing.

      1. I don’t believe that the requirements have been made public for block 3 officially, however quwa does a reasonable round up of the features that have been made public from different sources.

        It does appear that blk 3 may have a new engine, the details are not clear but rumours have been of one in the class of 22000 pounds of thrust, so an increase of 10% on the existing rd93. This was a while back i heard sorry don’t have a source for this.

  23. What many people in the Philippines don’t understand and fail to understand is that the JF-17 is actually an Open Architecture fighter because the JF-17 uses the MIL-STD-1760 data-bus architecture with the Stores Management System because it is really capable of mounting any weapon from any country. Which means in theory, the JF-17 can mount not only Chinese weapons but also weapons from America, Europe, Israel or even Russia. That’s something that is lost within the Philippine mindset because of the fact they are are so narrowly focused on the fact that China helped Pakistan designed the JF-17. What they don’t realize is that 58% of the JF-17 comes from Pakistan while the 42% comes from China/Russia.

      1. This is where I think your wrong because the MIL-STD-1760 is used by all and since the JF-17 uses the MIL-STD-1760. It means the JF-17 can mount weapons from any origin such as Europe, Israel, Russia or even America. That means the JF-17 in theory can mount American weapons like the AIM-9, AIM-7, AIM-120 or even the A-Darter or IRIS-T. So which means the Philippine in theory can buy the JF-17 Aircraft but they can mount avionics and weapons from Israel, Europe, Russia or China.

  24. Here’s the article
    Pakistan Surmounts Western Sanctions To Revive Airpower
    By Usman Ansari
    Published: 9 February 2009
    Pakistan Surmounts Sanctions To Revive Airpower – Defense News

    ISLAMABAD – After years of coping with U.S. and international sanctions intended to keep Pakistan from going nuclear, the country has renewed its air power and obtained vital missile and airborne warning capabilities without Western help.

    The U.S. sanctions imposed in 1990 did considerable damage to the Air Force. The embargo on the transfer of 71 Peace Gate-III/IV F-16s and their AIM-7 Sparrows kept the service from acquiring a beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) capability. Also beyond reach were airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, whose capabilities were sorely missed during the 1980s, when Soviet aircraft engaged in combat operations in neighboring Afghanistan continuously intruded into Pakistani airspace.

    This also left the military at a severe disadvantage against India’s much larger Air Force, whose Mirage-2000H and MiG-29As carried BVRAAMs.

    Islamabad attempted to close the gap with mid-1990s efforts to buy 40 Mirage-2000Cs, but that deal was scuppered by corruption allegations during the second tenure of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the fall of that government.

    In dire straits, Pakistan turned to close ally China. Initially, China could only provide low-tech solutions like the F-7P, already selected to complement the high-tech F-16s. Modernizing Mirage-III aircraft with Italian Grifo-M radars eased the strain somewhat, but there was still the question of a BVRAAM weapon.

    But together, China and Pakistan have now developed their own BVRAAM-equipped fighter and AEW aircraft: the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder multirole combat aircraft and the KJ-200/ZDK-03 AEW&C system.

    Protection From Future Sanctions

    Both programs have allowed Pakistan to boost its own aviation and defense electronics industries, with the eventual aim of being able to provide an indigenous, “sanction-proof” alternative to foreign suppliers.

    The JF-17 will enter frontline operational service by the end of 2009, armed with the Chinese SD-10/PL-12 BVRAAM.

    Officials have hinted about buying other weapons for later batches of the JF-17, such as the MBDA Mica. Wing Commander Asim Malik, a flight test engineer on the JF-17 program, would not speak directly on the subject. But “the mission computer can cope with any potential weapon integration,” he said.

    Malik said this was linked to its considerable export potential, “as the JF-17 is the only medium-tech aircraft in this price bracket, so there is a queue of vendors wanting to supply systems for the aircraft.”

    December also saw Pakistan sign a $278 million deal for four Chinese KJ-2000/ZDK03 AEW&C aircraft, whose active electronically steered array radar is mounted on a turboprop-powered Y-8F600. It is somewhat similar to the Saab-2000-mounted Ericsson FRS-890 Erieye system on order from Sweden.

    The ZDK-03 purchase, as with the joint JF-17 program, has an element of technology transfer, said defense analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium.

    “The Pakistan Air Force sees this procurement of ZDK03 AEW&C as a long-term investment, enabling it to tap into the emerging Chinese capabilities in this field,” Shabbir said. “A team of PAF engineers is already working with the Chinese into refining the performance of this system, and China is also helping to set up labs for advance avionics R&D within Pakistan.”

    When the United States lifted sanctions in 2002, Pakistan once more sought American help to modernize its air arm but has continued to draw closer to China. In 2006, Islamabad and Washington concluded a $5.1 billion deal for 18 new-build F-16C/D Block-52+ aircraft, upgrades for 28 F-16A/B Block-15s, midlife upgrade kits, and 500 AIM-120C5 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles. The Pakistan Navy also is set to acquire an AEW&C system based on the P-3B Orion airframe.

    Lockheed Martin spokesman Costas Papadopoulos said last November that work was set to begin on some aircraft.

    Though the American avenue for high-tech systems has been restored, Islamabad has not turned away from the alternative modernization program started with the help of China in the 1990s. Its aim was to acquire indigenous production capabilities in these areas and protect Pakistan from future sanctions.

    The expected order for 40 Chengdu J-10/FC-20 fighters from China later this year, to complement Pakistan’s F-16s, will further ensure Pakistan is less reliant on Western technology. Islamabad’s efforts to avoid a repeat of the sanctions that almost crippled its air arm for nearly two decades are almost complete.


    Which means according to Wing Commander Asim Malik, the JF-17 can in theory mount any weapons from any other source. Which would make it very attractive for the Philippines as well.

    1. That article does not specifically say that using MIL-STD-1760 is the standard that allows the JF-17 to use weapons from various countries, you are just assuming that.

  25. Interesting translation on the Chinese name, Xiaolong or “Xiao Long” can also mean “little dragon” which I think would be more suited for an LCA

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