JF17 thunder Block 3 Major Changes
Following are JF17 thunder Block 3 Major Changes
Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar
The integration of an AESA radar is perhaps the most important development in the JF-17’s upgrade path. AESA radars are complex and expensive systems, but they are a standard feature of 4.5 generation fighters such as the Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.
In a battlefield environment that is increasingly ridden with electronic warfare, AESA radars can help fighter aircraft resist enemy jamming, thus helping said fighters successfully engage their targets.
Helmet Mounted Display & Sight (HMD/S)
The incorporation of HMD/S is also a very important step for the JF-17. An HMD/S is basically a visor equipped with optical and processing systems (in other words, a ‘smart display’).
Current day HMD/S systems like the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing and Sight (JHMCS) system enable a fighter pilot to cue their air-to-air and air-to-surface weapon systems to the direction of where his or her head is pointing. Targets can be designated and engaged with minimal aircraft maneuvering, thereby increasing the efficiency (and thus lethality) of the fighter in combat.
Additional Station for Specialized Targeting Pods
It is possible, though not clearly verified, that the JF-17 Block-3 would have an additional station or hard-point (likely under the fuselage, by the ‘chin’) to house special-purpose targeting pods.
Possible Additions and Upgrades
One system that would be of use to the JF-17 is Infrared Search and Track (IRST). Ideally, the IRST system ought to be integrated into the nosecone of the fighter, but it is unclear if the PAF is actually going to take this route. IRST can be used to track enemy aircraft based on thermal signature using infrared, which allows for passive tracking (as opposed to the active tracking of a radar, which sends out pulses).
In a scenario where enemy electronic warfare capabilities are of exceptional depth or where there is need to reduce the probability of intercept to the absolute minimum (below that of an even an AESA radar), an IRST-system can be used instead of radar. An IRST system can be paired with a 5th-generation HOBS WVRAAM, enabling the JF-17 to dogfight with minimal effects from enemy EW jamming.
Another area of discussion is the JF-17’s turbofan engine, the Russian RD-93 (a variant of the RD-33 used on the MiG-29). A higher thrust engine such as the in-development RD-93MA can help the JF-17 in achieving a better thrust-to-weight-ratio (TWR), enabling improved maneuverability, speed and payload.
Again, it is unclear if an engine change is on the horizon for the JF-17 program, and if so, whether it would be incorporated as early as the Block-3. A new engine may be more likely on a later variant, especially if said variant exhibits a lighter airframe (as a result of a higher proportion of composite use)