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Actualité de la défense et des industries militaires du Moyen-Orient اخبار الدفاع و الصناعات العسكرية في الشرق الاوسط

Pakistani fighter jet GF 17 Thunder, expected success in the Middle East

Pakistani fighter jet GF-17 Thunder, expected success in the Middle East

We previously published on Tarsana.net in 2006 an article dealing with the joint fighter program between Islamabad and Beijing. After 16 years, this aircraft has become a realistic production after it entered service in several air forces. It has reached maturity now after continuous development

Thunder, or Thunderbolt, is a lightweight, single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft. Primarily designed to meet the needs of the Pakistan Air Force, it is inexpensive, modern, and multi-functional. Pakistan will replace its huge fleet of Chengdu J-7 and Mirage 3 and 5 aircraft. It can also be exported to other countries because of these features. They are considered cheaper than Western fighters. China and Pakistan signed a contract in 1999 for its design

Work was slow because it was difficult to get the necessary avionics and radar package from Europe. But the fuselage was designed without the necessary electronics in 2001. After that, the plane was fully designed and had its first flight in 2003.

The design was modified in 2006, and test flights began to take place in 2007. The first squadron of 14 aircraft was delivered to Pakistan on February 18, 2010.

The final design particularly influenced the design of the nose and tail. The latter two prototypes were used for avionics testing and armament integration. The first prototypes were handed over to the Pakistan Air Force in 2007 for evaluation. In the same year, the first official flight show of the fighter was held in Islamabad

The cost of the program is about 500 million US dollars, divided equally between the two countries

The GF-17 will cost about $15 million per plane, but it is estimated that Burma bought its jets for $35 million.

The PAF confirmed an order for 150 aircraft, with an option for a total of 250 aircraft

It announced the production of 16 fighters in 2015, to be increased to 20 in 2016.

The aircraft has been upgraded to the Block-2 standard which includes an in-flight refueling arm and a new set of avionics to expand the range of air-to-surface weapons on board. The handover takes place from December 2013 to June 2019, by which time the PAF had equipped five frontline squadrons.

The Block-3 standard is currently under development in China. This version should include a new Chinese engine, active antenna radar and infrared optical control system, helmet sight and a new electrical flight control system.

The Pakistani warplane has had some export success. Among the countries that acquired them in addition to the Pakistani Air Force, we will find, for example, Burma, from which it bought 16 aircraft, and 6 aircraft were delivered in 2018. As for Nigeria, it has received 3 of them so far, with a division of $ 16 million.

There are other countries that have shown interest in these planes, including Sri Lanka, Bolivia and Argentina. Serious discussions took place with Iraq and Egypt. According to the Chinese Sohu website, there are discussions about the possibility of Egypt buying this type of fighter, and establishing a local production and assembly line for it in Egypt on the production lines of the Kai-8 aircraft produced by Egypt, in order to save effort and reduce costs, as Egypt wants to obtain the new version of the fighter. (Block 3)

The Chinese website stated that if this deal is completed, it will undoubtedly be an opportunity to open a new market for this fighter in the Middle East

This Chinese fighter is distinguished by its low cost compared to the French Rafale fighters, as Egypt needs it to replace 100 obsolete fighters, as well as to train pilots in order not to consume the most powerful and expensive fighters in the Egyptian Air Force’s arsenal.

the design

the structure

The fuselage is mainly made of aluminum alloy. Although plans have been drawn up to reduce the weight of the aircraft by using composite materials, aluminum alloys and titanium have been used in some important parts of the fuselage. The hull life expectancy is 4,000 flight hours, or 25 years. The wings are fixed in the middle of the fuselage and are delta-shaped. It is equipped with a set of attachments that generate a vortex that has the ability to provide more thrust to lift the aircraft's wings during combat maneuvers


The aircraft uses a software package written in more than a million lines of instructions. Written using the civilian C++ language, it allows a greater variety of applications to be used. The cockpit contains an electronic flight system and a system for displaying information in front of the pilot on the cockpit glass. It also contains communications systems, so it can become part of a military network to collect information and focus attacks on the target


General qualities

     Crew: 1

     Length: 14 metres

     The distance between the two wings: 9.45 meters

     Height: 4.77 metres

     Wings area: 24.4 square meters

     Curb weight: 6,411 kg

     Loaded weight: 9,100 kg

     Maximum weight: 12,700 kg

     Internal fuel capacity: 2,300 kg

the performance

     Top speed: Mach 1.8 (2,205 km/h)

     Range: 3480 km

     Maximum altitude: 16,920 metres

     Thrust-to-weight ratio: 0.95


     23 mm cannon

     About 3,629 kg of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons can be carried on seven suspension points

     Additional fuel tanks: Three additional tanks can be carried (one under the fuselage of 800 liters capacity and two under the wings of 800-1100 liters capacity)

Pakistani fighter jet GF 17 Thunder, expected success in the Middle East
Pakistani fighter jet GF 17 Thunder, expected success in the Middle East
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