India’s Tejas vs Pakistan’s JF-17 in low-cost fighter showdown – Asia Times

India's Tejas vs Pakistan's JF-17 in low-cost fighter showdown - Asia Times

In a contentious continent battle for air power and global sales, India’s homemade Tejas Mk 1A gentle combat fighter jet squares off against Pakistan’s JF-17. Both fighters were designed to meet the same defense requirements and missions, and they are prepared to compete on low-cost warrior world markets.

The Tejas Mk 1A’s first flight in March showed significant improvements, including new active electronically scanned array ( AESA ) radar, updated avionics, a comprehensive electronic warfare capability, and minor modifications to the internal structure and outer mold line, according to The Warzone.

The lightweight combat jets typically created from existing trainers like the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI ) FA-50 and Sweden’s Saab Gripen are smaller in size and weight. India’s light warrior programme has experienced difficulties and problems with the General Electric F404 turbofan website, which is apparently underpowered for the Tejas.

With a reported US$ 5.9 billion budget, the Indian Air Force ( IAF ) has been working on an upgraded version of the Tejas Mk 1A since 2016. Last month, the IAF received two Series 1A aircraft, and it is now considering increasing the first attempt to 180.

The Tejas Mk 2 is currently being planned as a” next generation” version, with numerous envisioned changes to the Mk 1 and Mk 1A, according to The Warzone.

The Tejas, which initially flew in 2016 and is portion of India’s four- decade- ancient drive to create aboriginal military aircraft, are estimated to cost US$ 37.8 million per Mk 1A unit. Significantly, the first shipment of 40 Tejas Mk 1 flights was not built to complete production design.

The Tejas MK 1 Photo: X Screenshot

India’s Tejas Mk 1A is comparable to the JF- 17 traveled by competitors Pakistan and China. Both gentle combat aviation varieties were created to serve as low-cost fighters for air forces that are cash-strapped. They are close in growth and price, technical specifications and abilities, and export potential.

In a November 2023 content, India Aerospace and Defense Bulletin describes the Tejas as a potential substitute for the MiG-21s, which were first made available from Russia in the 1960s and will ultimately be the IAF’s foundation with a planned 870 products.

Given the alarming crash history of the IAF’s MiG-21s, as documented by the India Aerospace and Defense Bulletin, that ca n’t happen soon enough. While India’s MiG- 21s have been upgraded over the years, the 2019 shootdown of one by a Pakistani F- 16 or JF- 17 may have definitively shown the aircraft’s obsolescence.

The JF- 17, which first flew in 2003, is a joint project between China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Complex ( CAC ) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex ( PAC ). Early JF- 17 aircraft were made entirely in China, but now Pakistan manufactures 58 % of the aircraft and the other 42 % in China.

Although the JF- 17 costs only US$ 15-25 million, it is not intended to compete with advanced fighters like the F-35 or the F-22, but rather to use it against weakly armored insurgents or adversaries.

As India’s Tejas and Pakistan’s JF- 17 were designed according to similar requirements for low- cost fighter jets, they have similar technical characteristics.

The first 21 Tejas Mk 1A aircraft will have the Israeli ELTA ELM- 2052 active electronically scanned array ( AESA ) radar while India’s indigenous Uttam radar development and integration is updated, according to the India Defense Research Wing ( IDRW).

Airforce Technology notes that the Tejas fighter jet’s cockpit has advanced displays, a return- to- home base panel and keyboard. According to the same report, Bharat Electronics created the displays while Central Scientific Instruments Organization ( CSIO ), a government-owned company, created the head-up display ( HUD).

According to Airforce Technology, the Tejas has an inertial navigation system with integrated GPS, a helmet-mounted display and sight, and hands-on throttle and stick control system ( HOTAS ) as well as fly-by-wire digital automatic flight control. Additionally, the cockpit has a ground proximity warning system, an environmental control system, and an avionics suite.

All Tejas variants will have a 30mm Russian GSh- 30- 1 gun, which the IAF has extensive experience in using and maintaining, and use several foreign and Indian- made weapons.

Janes noted in December 2023 that the JF- 17 Block III uses the Chinese KLJ- 7A AESA radar, with a claimed maximum range of 170 kilometers. Furthermore, PakDefense notes in a June 2022 article that the JF- 17 Block III has an advanced avionics suite, HOTAS, advanced datalink systems, night- vision compatible displays, infrared search and track ( IRS T ), and GPS/GLONASS capability.

Airforce Technology notes that the JF- 17 can be armed with a Russian GSh- 23 dual- barrel 23- millimeter or GSh- 30 dual- barrel 30- millimeter cannon. The same report says the JF- 17 can use China’s PL family of AAMs and the US- made AIM- 9L alongside various unguided bombs, satellite- guided bombs, rockets, anti- ship missiles and anti- radiation missiles.

While India’s Tejas has yet to be sold for export, the JF- 17 has already won significant international sales.

The JF- 17 Block III fighter. Photo: China Ministry of Defense

However, both aircraft have many technical issues and political strings attached. New Indian Express reported in December 2023 that Argentina, Nigeria, Botswana, Egypt and the Philippines have expressed interest in buying Tejas.

However, New Indian Express noted that the Tejas has 15 UK- made components, a concern for Argentina considering its long- running dispute with the UK over the Falkland Islands.

Girish Lingana claimed in a Business Upturn article last month that Tejas still has a number of technical issues, including poor serviceability rates, light payload, short range, unreliable GE 404 engines, inferior technology in comparison to more well-known fighter models, and poor cost-to-capacity ratio.

In contrast, Asia Times has mentioned that the JF- 17 is a rare bright spot in China’s relatively dismal fighter jet export record. The JF- 17 is the most- exported modern Chinese fighter jet, with 145 airframes shipped as of October 2021 and an expected increase of 185 units by the decade’s end.

However, The Irrawaddy reported in November 2022 that Myanmar’s JF- 17s have been plagued with structural cracks and poor radar accuracy. The Irrawaddy also points out that the pilots ‘ initial attempts to fly the JF-17 have been forced to fly older aircraft like the Yak-130, MiG-29, and K-8.

The JF- 17’s use of Russian RD- 93 engines may also raise questions for potential buyers regarding secondary Western sanctions brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. &nbsp,