JF-17 vs HAL Tejas – The comparisons between Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder and the Indian HAL Tejas has been inevitable. Although the JF-17 Thunder and HAL Tejas are comparable at many levels like easy maintenance, lightness and manoeuvrability, the fact that the JF-17 Thunder is ready for sale, has given it a head-start.
So is the JF-17 Thunder really better than the HAL Tejas?
In 2018 Defense Services Asia exhibition, an official from Pakistan announced that Malaysia and Pakistan had begun discussing the export of the JF-17 Thunder Fighter Jet, for the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Is Malaysia Ready to Purchase the JF-17 Thunder from its ally Pakistan?
The official from Pakistan clarified that the discussions were ‘preliminary’ and no deals between the governments had been signed yet. In fact, Pakistan has extended support to locally manufacture, maintain, repair and take care of overhaul in partnership with Malaysia’s local industry.
JF-17 Thunder vs HAL Tejas
Both the nations – India and Pakistan – are aware of the potential of combat planes such as the JF-17 Thunder and the HAL Tejas in the current market. While both models may be similar, the availability of Pakistans fighter jet makes it more popular. However, both the JF-17 and Tejas hold a very wide customer base in economically weakened nations that require low cost but effective air defence.
Specifications of JF-17 Block 2
JF-17 Thunder General characteristics
- Crew: 1 (single-seat) or 2 (dual-seat)
- Length: 14.93 m (49 ft 0 in)
- Wingspan: 9.44 m (31 ft 0 in)
- Height: 4.77 m (15 ft 8 in)
- Wing area: 24.43 m2 (263.0 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 6,586 kg (14,520 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 12,700 kg (27,999 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 2,330 kg (5,137 lb) internal fuel; 1 x 800 kg (1,764 lb) centre-line drop tank; 2 x 800 kg (1,764 lb) or 1,100 kg (2,425 lb) under-wing drop tanks
- Payload: 4,600 kg (10,100 lb) external stores
- Powerplant: 1 × Klimov RD-93MA afterburning turbofan with digital electronic engine control (DEEC), 50.4 kN (11,300 lbf) thrust dry, 85.6 kN (19,200 lbf) with afterburner.
JF-17 Thunder Performance
- Maximum speed: 1,909 km/h (1,186 mph, 1,031 kn)
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.6
- Cruise speed: 1,359 km/h (844 mph, 734 kn)
- Stall speed: 150 km/h (93 mph, 81 kn)
- Range: 2,500 km (1,600 mi, 1,300 nmi)
- Combat range: 1,352 km (840 mi, 730 nmi)
- Ferry range: 3,500 km (2,200 mi, 1,900 nmi) with 3 external drop tanks
- Service ceiling: 16,500 m (54,100 ft)
- g limits: +8/–3 (limited by flight control system)
- Rate of climb: 300 m/s (59,000 ft/min)
- Thrust/weight: 0.95 with RD-93 (with 50% internal fuel and 2*SRAAM) ,0.97 with WS-13 engine
JF-17 Thunder Armament
- Guns: 1 × 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon or 1 × 30 mm GSh-30-2 twin-barrel cannon
- Hardpoints: 7 (2 × wing-tip, 4 × under-wing, 1 × under-fuselage) with capacity for dual ejector racks on each under-wing hardpoint
- Air-to-air missiles:
- PL-5EII (within visual range missile)
- PL-9C (WVR missile)
- AIM-9L/M Sidewinder (Short-range)
- PL-8 (Short-range)
- PL-15 ( Very Long range Beyond Visual range missile)
- R-Darter (beyond visual range missile)
- SD-10A (PL-12 export version) (beyond visual range missile)
- Air-to-surface missiles:
- CM-102 (anti-radiation missile)
- LD-10 (anti-radiation missile)
- MAR-1 (anti-radiation missile)
- Ra’ad (Nuclear Stealth Cruise missile)
- Ra’ad MK-2 (Nuclear Stealth Cruise missile)
- Air-to-air missiles:
- Anti-ship missiles:
- C-802AK (anti-ship missile)
- Exocet (anti-ship missile)
- C-803 (sea skimming anti-ship missile)
- CM-400AKG (anti-ship missile)
- Anti-ship missiles:
- Unguided bombs:
- Mk-80(General-purpose bomb)
- Mk-82 (General-purpose bomb)
- Mk-83 (General-purpose bomb)
- Mk-84 (General-purpose bomb)
- 250 kg Pre-fragmented bomb
- Matra Durandal (Anti-runway bomb)
- AWC HAFR-2 (Anti-runway bomb)
- AWC HAFR-1 (Anti-runway bomb)
- AWC RPB-1 (Anti-runway bomb)
- CBU-99 (Anti-armour cluster bomb)
- CBU-100 Cluster Bomb (Anti-armour cluster bomb)
- Guided bombs:
- GBU-10 (Laser-guided bomb)
- GBU-12 (Laser-guided bomb)
- GBU-16 (Laser-guided bomb)
- LT-2 (Precision-guided bomb)
- JDAM (Precision-guided bomb)
- H-4 SOW Stand off weapon (Precision-guided glide bomb)
- H-2 SOW Stand off weapon (Precision-guided glide bomb)
- Takbir (GPS/INS guided glide bomb)
- LS-6 (GPS/INS guided bomb)
- Unguided bombs:
- Range Extension Kit (GPS/INS guided bomb)
- GDJ-II19 dual ejector rack
- Countermeasures (Flares, Chaff)
- Up to 3 external drop tanks (1 x 800 kg (1,764 lb) centre-line drop tank; 2 x 800 kg (1,764 lb) or 1,100 kg (2,425 lb) under-wing drop tanks) for extended range/loitering time.
- KLJ-7 v2 Airborne Pulse Doppler Fire-Control Radar ( Range-150 km for 3m2 RCS aircraft.)
- Northrop Grumman ALR-67 Rader Warning Recever (RWR)
- S740 Airborne Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS)
- Indra ALQ-500P Electronic Countermeasure (ECM)
- Link-17 Tactical Data Link
- MIL-STD-1760 data-bus
- Externally mounted avionics pods:
- Aselsan ASELPOD Advanced Targeting Pod Electro-Optical Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Targeting System
- KG300G Airborne Self-Protection Jamming Pod
- KG600 Airborne Self-Protection Jamming Pod
- Forward-looking IRST pod
- WMD-7 Day/Night targeting pod
- KZ900 Electronic reconnaissance pod.
- Blue Sky (navigation pod) for low altitude navigational and attack
Will India’s Make In India Program Outshine the JF-17 Thunder?
India is trying to shift from one of the world’s largest importer to being an exporter with PM Modi’s Make In India program focusing on military development. However, corruption is the second rule of law, lack of resources and poor execution have not allowed India to go ahead with its plans.
The HAL Tejas is a matter for pride for the Indian defence industry, however, it has taken country nearly 3 decades of shame for the project to reach its current stage and that is something India needs to reflect upon. On the other hand, the JF-17 Thunder by Pakistan has gathered operational experience and made it a bigger buying potential for foreign buyers.
HAL Tejas Indian Air Force
The HAL Tejas is an Indian single-engine, fourth-generation, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”.
Tejas has a tail-less compound delta-wing configuration with a single dorsal fin. This provides better high-alpha performance characteristics than conventional wing designs. Its wing root leading edge has a sweep of 50 degrees, the outer wing leading edge has a sweep of 62.5 degrees, and trailing edge has a forward sweep of four degrees. It integrates technologies such as relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar, integrated digital avionics system and composite material structures. It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft.
The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut. Production of the Tejas Mark 1 for the Indian Air Force (IAF) began in 2016, at which time the naval version was undergoing flight tests for Indian Navy (IN). The projected requirement for the IAF was 200 single-seat fighters and 20 twin-seat trainers, while the IN expected to operate at least 40 single-seat fighters. The first Tejas IAF unit, No. 45 Squadron IAF Flying Daggers was formed on 1 July 2016 with two aircraft. Initially stationed at Bangalore, 45 Squadron was later relocated to its home base at Sulur, Tamil Nadu. The Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre, reported to parliament that the indigenous content of the Tejas was 59.7% by value and 75.5% by number of line replaceable units in 2016.
As of 2019, the Indian Air Force has planned for a total of 324 Tejas in several variants. The first batch of 40 Mark 1 aircraft consists of 16 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard that were delivered in early 2019. The delivery of the second batch of 16 Full Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft commenced in late 2019 and led to formation of the second Tejas squadron — No. 18 Squadron IAF Flying Bullets — in Sulur on 27 May 2020. The IAF will also go on to receive eight twin-seat trainers. The next 83 are to be to the upgraded Mark 1A standard. By the time these first 123 are delivered, the Tejas Mark 2 is expected to be ready for series production by 2025–26.
In May 2015, the Mark 1 aircraft was criticised by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) for not meeting IAF requirements, such as a lack of a capable tandem-seated trainer aircraft, electronic warfare capabilities, performance shortcomings of radar warning receiver or missile approach warning system, weight and cost increases, limited internal fuel capacity, non-compliance of fuel system protection, inadequate forward-facing pilot protection, and performance shortfalls due to under-powered engine. Most of these issues are to be addressed in the upcoming interim upgrade called Mark 1A and subsequent advanced version called Mark 2 or MWF.
It was reported that IAF agreed to accept 40 aircraft even though the CAG had found serious operational shortfalls, including engine thrust, overweight and pilot protection in front against 7.62 mm rifle calibre rounds. The IAF agreed to accept the initial Tejas aircraft with some deficiencies to keep the programme going. IAF had initially ruled out further acquisition of Tejas Mk 1 until Mk 2 was ready. In 2015, the ADA, DRDO and HAL proposed a more advanced Tejas Mk 1A version; as an improved stop-gap to keep production running as Mark 2 was delayed. Following an approval from Defence Acquisition Council for 83 Tejas Mk 1A, HAL invited global bids for AESA radar and ECM pods in December 2016. In December 2018, it was reported that HAL had selected Elta’s EL/M-2052 AESA radar and EL/L-8222 ECM pod.
Another major improvement in Mark 1A is its higher maintainability, while hot-refuelling and aerial refuelling have both been already demonstrated in prototypes and are to be available features from all FOC standard Tejas.
On 20 December 2017, IAF initiated a tender to buy 83 Mark 1A worth 33,200 crores from HAL. However, with HAL quoting a price of ₹463 crore (US$65 million) per unit, substantially higher than the Mark 1, the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in July 2018 that a committee to look into the cost of the Mark 1A, along with other products manufactured by defence Public Sector Undertakings. The committee, headed by the Defence Ministry’s Director of Costs, had been given 60 days time to review the cost of the Mk 1A. HAL agreed to lower the unit price to between ₹250 crore (US$35 million)–₹275 crore (US$39 million) for 73 Mark 1A and 10 Mark 1 trainer jets bringing the value to about Rs 22,825 crores. However, this new deal would exclude all maintenance and logistical equipment. Pricing of the LCA Tejas Mark 1A, which was under discussion with the costing committee has been finalised on 3 September 2019 in a meeting with the Secretary of Defence Production, while a separate negotiation for the support package brought the total cost of the deal to ₹45,000 crore (US$6.3 billion). However, the deal was renegotiated in March 2020 with HAL reducing its profits and the IAF reducing some spares and support requirements to ₹38,000 crore (US$5.3 billion); MOD has now forwarded the deal to the Cabinet Committee for Security for its approval. Signing of the contract for the aircraft remains to be done; the first Tejas Mark 1A is expected to be delivered before 2023, 36 months after signing the contract.
To meet the IAF’s air staff qualitative requirements (ASQR), ADA had to make substantial changes to the basic Mk1/Mk1A airframe to improve payload and performance in the more advanced upgrade called Tejas Mark 2. Initially they had planned to simply elongate the Mark 1 with a 0.5 m fuselage plug to hold more fuel, while fitting a more powerful General Electric F414-GE-INS6 engine with 64–98 kN of thrust.
To be renamed eventually, the Mark 2, which is now classified as a medium-weight fighter, is also to feature an indigenous integrated life support system-onboard oxygen generation system (ILSS-OBOGS) weighing 14.5 kg which uses pressure swing adsorption technique and a built-in integrated electro-optic electronic warfare suite among other improvements to avionics. The oxygen generation system is developed by Defence Bioengineering and Electromedical Laboratory (DEBEL). It will have an infra-red search and track (IRST) system and a missile approach warning system (MAWS). An increase in payload capacity to 6,500 kg (14,300 lb), and an increase in number of weapons stations from 7 to 11, will allow the MWF to carry more weapons. Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) is developing aircraft health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) to integrate various sensors onboard Tejas Mark 2.
Specifications Tejas Mk 1
HAL Tejas Mk 1 General characteristics
- Crew: 1 or 2
- Length: 13.2 m (43 ft 4 in)
- Wingspan: 8.2 m (26 ft 11 in)
- Height: 4.4 m (14 ft 5 in)
- Wing area: 38.4 m2 (413 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 6,560 kg (14,462 lb)
- Gross weight: 9,800 kg (21,605 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 13,500 kg (29,762 lb)
- Fuel capacity: 2,458 kg (5,419 lb) internal; 2 × 1,200 l (260 imp gal; 320 US gal), 800 l (180 imp gal; 210 US gal) drop tank inboard, 725 l (159 imp gal; 192 US gal) drop tank under fuselage
- Payload: 5,300 kg (11,700 lb) external stores
- Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F404-GE-IN20 turbofan, 53.9 kN (12,100 lbf) thrust dry, 90 kN (20,200 lbf) with afterburner.
HAL Tejas Mk 1 Performance
- Maximum speed: Mach 1.8
- Range: 1,850 km (1,150 mi, 459 nmi)
- Combat range: 500 km (320 mi, 280 nmi) with internal tanks
- Ferry range: 3,200 km (1,986 mi, 1,726 nmi) with 2x external drop tanks
- Service ceiling: 16,500 m (50,000 ft)
- g limits: +8/−3.5
- Wing loading: 255.2 kg/m2 (52.3 lb/sq ft)
- Thrust/weight: 0.99
HAL Tejas Mk 1 Armament
- Guns: 1x 23 mm twin-barrel GSh-23 cannon
- Hardpoints: 8 (1 × beneath the port-side intake trunk for targeting pods, 6 × under-wing, and 1 × under-fuselage) with a capacity of 5,700 kg,with provisions to carry combinations of:
- Rockets: S-8 rocket pods (expected)
- Air-to-air missiles:
- Python-5 (future)
- R-77 (expected)
- ASRAAM (expected)
- Air-to-surface missile
- BrahMos-NG ALCM (planned for Tejas Mk.1A)
- Kh-59ME, Kh-59L, Kh-59T
- Anti-radiation missile
- NGARM (future)
- Anti-ship missile
- Air-to-air missiles:
(supports CCRP/CCIP mode)
- GBU-16 Paveway II
- DRDO SAAW
- DRDO glide bomb
HAL Tejas Mk 1 Avionics
- HAL Tejas Mk 1
- Hybrid Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode all weather fire control radar with day and night capability.
- HAL Tejas Mk 1A
- Elta EL/M-2052 AESA radar with EL/L-8222 ECM pod for initial production batch.
- LRDE Uttam AESA radar expected in last production batch.