Ask any aviation experts, they would agree on the fact that a comparison between Indian LCA Tejas and Pakistan-China collab JF-17 Thunder is a cardinal sin. Aviation experts agree that both are at different generations and a comparison is not right. Let us take a look at both fighter’s specs and decide if a comparison between the two is worthy.
Manufacturer: Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd
Plans for Tejas were kickstarted during early eighties to establish a self-reliant aerospace environment in India. Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) was established to spearhead the project. Hal was made the principal partner along with assistance from DRDO, CSIR and various PSUs and private firms. It is intended to replace the aging and obsolete Mig-21 fleet IAF, which retired recently.
Powerplant: General Electric F404-GE-F2J3 afterburning turbofan to be replaced by GE F414 in future
Max speed: Mach 1.8(2,205kmph)
Combat radius: 500km
Service ceiling: 16,000m
Thrust to Weight ratio: 1.07
Radar: Israel Aerospace Industries EL/M-2032
Hardpoints: 8(1x port side intake trunk-for sensors, 1x beneath fuselage, 6x wing hardpoints)
- Unstable delta wing configuration- gives high manoeuvrability and agility
- Extensive use of composites- reduces weight and increases payload capacity
- Over 45% carbon-composite airframe- reduces Radar Cross Section.
- Ultra modern avionics- highly reliable quadruplex digital fly-by-wire Flight Control System for all 3 axes, effective Human Machine Interface
- Glass cockpit display- with Multi Function Displays (MFD), Head Up Display (HUD) and Open Architecture Mission and display computer
- Lightest and smallest fighter in its class
- Operations intended for Air Defence, Air-superiority and Close Air Support
- 1x GSh-23 cannon
- Air-to-Air missiles
- Air-to-Surface missiles
- Guided and Non-Guided bombs
- Rocket pods
- Anti- Ship missiles
Citing its specifications Tejas would be best suitable for Close Air Support and Ground attack roles. It could engage in Beyond Visual Range fights with BVR missiles like Astra and upgraded EL/M-2052 AESA radar.
Manufacturer: Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation (CAC)
Soon after the cancellation of Project ‘Super 7’ with Grumman, China launched the FC-1 fighter project for which they invited Pakistan to be a partner. Pakistan invested in return for huge Transfer of Technology and a position as an R&D partner.
Powerplant: Russian Kilmov RD-93
Max Speed: 1.6 Mach (1910kmph)
Combat Radius: 1,352km
Service ceiling: 16,794m
Thrust to weight ratio: 0.95
Radar: Chinese NRIET KLJ-7
Hardpoints: 7(1x underneath fuselage, 4x underneath wings, 2x wingtips)
- Cropped delta wing configuration for manoeuvrability
- Computerised Flight Control System for only pitch axis.
- Electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) with MFD and HUD
- Data linking enabled and improved situation awareness
- Provisions for FLIR and Laser designation pods
- Operations are intended for Close Air Support, Air Defence, Close Air Patrol and Ground attack
- 1x GSh-23 cannon
- Air to Air missiles
- Air to Surface missiles
- Guided and Unguided bombs
It is pretty clear from the article that Tejas is far better than JF-17 in all aspects, that is simply because JF-17 was never meant to be the backbone of an air force (except Pakistan of course). The Chinese wanted them as a support to their ageing J-7 fleet. That is why the Chinese themself do not operate the Thunder but eyes potential export sales only. Pakistan was their first step and they succeeded in roping them in.
Tejas on the other hand is focussed on being a platform to provide a growing ground for Indian aviation industry. It is a road to the future of advanced aircraft design and fabrication in Indian soil. The Tejas platform is flexible in every way and is generations ahead of JF-17 and with the list of upgradations on cards; it would be a formidable fighter that could reign the skies of future. So next time someone draws a comparison between the two, you know what to do.