Although many netizens call the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 “Fierce Dragon” a second-generation and a half fighter, the reason is that the “Fierce Dragon” is improved on the basis of the J-7, but the “Fierce Dragon” is generally returned to the world. It is classified as a third-generation aircraft, and some experts even call its latest batch a fourth-generation aircraft. It is comparable to the legal “Rafale” fighter jets that the Indian Air Force has just served. relation.
At present, the largest user of the “JF-17” fighter is the Pakistan Air Force. Although the Pakistani Air Force pilots flying the “JF-17” praised the “JF-17” and said that it is no less than the initial F-16, but from the actual situation, Jf-17 is still far behind the F-16 in the Pakistan Air Force. Those pilots who fly F-16 only the difference between two fighters.
In the 2019 India-Pakistan air battle, the Pakistani Air Force’s tactics also confirmed this claim, although the Pakistani Air Force originally claimed that it was the JF-17 that shot down the Indian MiG-21. when the United States sold F-16s and upgrades to Pakistan, Pakistan is not allowed to use the F-16 against India, but with more evidence revealed, especially the wreckage of the AIM-120 active medium-range bomb obtained by India, the Pakistan Air Force finally admitted that it was an improved F -16A/B shot down the Indian MiG-21, while the JF-17 and Mirage-3/5 performed ground attack missions and acted as a decoy to lure the Indian Air Force’s MiG-21. While in this battle Pakistan air force also lost one F-16 shot down by IAF Mig-21 Bison.
Now, while the JF-17 is continuously improving, it is also being equipped with the Pakistan Air Force as planned to replace the old-fashioned J-7 and Mirage-3/5. The Pakistan Air Force currently has 4 squadrons using J-7 fighters. Among them, the J-7PG used by the 23rd Claw Squadron, the 17th “Tiger” Squadron, and the 20th “Eagle” Squadron is responsible for the combat entry lead coach, The 18th Squadron used the older J-7P.
Pakistan successively acquired these J-7 fighter jets in the 1980s and 1990s. Although some Western advanced avionics and Martin Baker ejection seats were installed later, the double delta wing design enhanced its low-altitude maneuverability and was able to carry 4 armaments. J-7 fighter can carry two short-range air-to-air missiles and two 30mm cannons, but after all, they are really backward and are being replaced by JF-17, including the two-seater JF-17.
Currently, PAF operating 138 no. of J-17 fighter aircraft, most of them are useless because of old age, while Mirage getting old day by day and facing a shortage of spare parts. Most of the Pakistani aircraft are not mission-ready.
“Pakistan has become self-sufficient in developing JF-17 Thunder and an advanced fighter aircraft producing country in the world. JF-17 Thunder has finally become the backbone of Pakistan’s defence,” said by Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong.
Why does the PAF still use a huge number of old aircraft?
There are several factors for Pakistan using old and obsolete combat aircraft like Chengdu J7, Mirage 3 and Mirage 5 –
- Pakistan’s GDP is around 285 billion USD and the country doesn’t rank in top 40 economies of the world. Almost 40% of revenue of the country goes into debt servicing. Pakistan has been bailed out 13 times by IMP in last 3 decades. Pakistan has been surviving on loans from friendly countries in the last few years. Pakistan had monetized its geography in past for money. Now, that free flowing money from America has dried up and its new partner China is simply not ready to give even 1 dollar in free. So in plane words, Pakistan doesn’t have enough money to buy advanced fighters.
- There are only a few countries in the world that manufacture state of art fighter jets. Today America, Russia, and the European nation are not ready to sell advanced fighters to Pakistan for various reasons. That means Pakistan is only left with China and may be Sweden. Even the Chinese have not sold its more advanced fighters like J-20 to China. At mas Pakistan can buy Chinese fighters like they are doing in case of J/F-17 (which is not used buy even China).
- Pakistan is still on the grey list of FATF for financing terrorist organizations and its image is bad and this also plays a role in arms industry.
Even relatively batter off countries like India is struggling to buy newer fighters in large quantity due to high costs. The Army runs on the economy. Pakistani economy can’t sustain its very high military expenditure without external support. And this corona economic crisis may delay modernization further. That’s why majority of fights in Pakistan are old fighters like Chengdu J7, Mirage 3 and Mirage 5.
In contrast, the Indian Air Force operates 64 third-generation MIG-21 and will be replaced by Tejas by 2025. Compared to the Pakistani Air Force’s J-7, the Indian Air Force’s improved MiG-21 is more powerful. It not only has the ability to launch Russian-made R-77 active medium-range ammunition, and has the ability to accurately strike the ground. However, there are many problems in the supply of spare parts and other aspects.