Q. Has PAF carried out an assessment of the training-requirements for induction of JF-17 aircraft? How will they be met?
A. So far the PAF has not chalked out any training programme for its pilots on JF-17 aircraft. However, owing to the excellent man- machine interface of JF-17 aircraft, it can be assumed with confidence that the training for flying this aircraft would neither be difficult nor a complex affair. Reports from the Chinese and PAF test pilots in China also confirm the fact that JF-17 is a pilot-friendly and easy aircraft to fly. Since training to fly the JF-17 aircraft would not be time consuming and induction of the aircraft in PAF is still two years away, therefore, it is a little premature to chalk-out the training plan.
Q. How will PAF conduct acceptance of JF-17 aircraft from the manufacturer i.e. what does it involve?
A. PAF will not only be the user but also the manufacturer of JF-17 aircraft. Therefore, manufacturing and production process of JF-17 aircraft would be monitored and controlled by PAF from the very beginning. Since PAF is a quality conscious organisation, therefore, highest standards of quality will be ensured at all tiers of production. Nevertheless, after the completion of manufacturing and assembly processes, elaborate ground and flight tests would still be conducted on all the newly manufactured JF-17 aircraft at PAC Kamra, before they are handed over to the fighter squadrons. For this purpose, a modern computerised flight test centre is being established at PAC Kamra.
Such exhaustive quality control and quality assurance measures would certainly ensure a high quality of the product. Nevertheless, before flying the aircraft to the fighter bases, teams from operational squadrons of the PAF, comprising pilots, engineers, and technicians would also be asked to carry out ground acceptance tests on the aircraft when it is handed over to them. Additionally, these pilots would also fly Functional Check Flights to re-assure themselves of the satisfactory functioning of all the aircraft systems and sub-systems.
Q. Will JF-17 (or its variant) be used in the naval role.
A. Yes, JF-17 is an all-weather, multi-role combat aircraft, which can be effectively used against almost all types of targets including those at sea. Therefore, the aircraft will be appropriately configured to effectively undertake the maritime operations as well. For this purpose, it is being equipped with a modern radar, which would have good performance against all types of targets even during bad weather, rough sea-states and EW environments. The aircraft is also being equipped with an auto-pilot, accurate navigation system, and other avionics systems, which are installed in any modern aircraft to ensure efficient day / night operations over the sea. In its weapons package, the aircraft is being equipped with modern anti-shipping missiles and anti-radiation missiles, in addition to the general-purpose bombs and LASER guided bombs. These capabilities would certainly make JF-17 aircraft a potent weapon system, which can be effectively used for all type of missions over the sea.
Q. Can your provide some details about JF-17s avionics and weapon suite?
A. JF-17 aircraft will have a modern avionics architecture, which will be supported by two mission computers, Smart Multi Function Coloured Displays, Smart Heads Up Display, ICP and HOTAS arrangement. These features will provide an excellent man-machine-interface to the pilot in a complete glass-cockpit environment. In the avionics layout, mechanical sub-systems of the aircraft will also be interfaced to provide automatic monitoring of almost all the aircraft sub-systems. In case of a malfunction in any of the aircraft sub-systems, the onboard computers will provide fault analysis, warning and guidance to the pilot.
The aircraft will have a modern powerful radar, which will have excellent performance in air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea modes. A tactical data link system, which will be integrated with the other air-borne and ground-based sensors, will also be available to provide comprehensive situational awareness to the pilot. The aircraft will also be equipped with IRSTS, CLDP, and Helmet Mounted Display to provide all weather operations capability in all types of environments. The navigation system of the aircraft will be based on the Ring LASER gyro which would be coupled with the GPS.
For providing qualitative operational training, the aircraft will also be equipped with ACMI, Solid State Digital Data/ Video Recorder and the DTC, whereas TACAN, ILS etc will also be available for efficient and safe aircraft operations at night and during bad weather conditions. For its self-protection, the aircraft will have an Integrated Counter Measure System, which would automatically operate to ward off different types of threats by employing CFD and ECM pod. The ICMS will get its update from the RWR, MAWS and other sensors. Two independent high-performance wide-band radios alongwith an independent data link will ensure efficient communication even during intense EW environments. In short, JF-17 aircraft will have a highly modern avionics suite, which will certainly provide the cutting- edge to the aircraft.
Q. Currently, the JF-17 prototypes are equipped with a mix of hydraulic and FBW system. Will the production models retain this unique system or will they be equipped with a complete FBW system?
A. The flight controls of JF-17 aircraft are commanded through six computers and operated by two hydraulic systems. The six flight control computers have a lot of redundancy within themselves, therefore, the aircraft would keep flying normally, even if couple of computers fail. This redundancy is a common feature of almost all the fly-by-wire control systems in the world. However, a unique feature of JF-17 aircraft is that it can fly like a conventional aircraft even when all its flight control computers fail. This arrangement is an added safety feature, which provides an additional advantage to the aircraft without any adverse effects. Therefore, it would be retained in the serial production aircraft as well.
Q. When will Pakistan get its first aircraft for evaluation and training?
A. Pakistani test pilots and test-engineers are already involved in the complete flight testing and evaluation phase of JF-17 aircraft in China . Therefore, these tests will not be repeated in Pakistan. The small-batch or the pilot-batch production would start in the middle of 2004 and PAF would get its first aircraft in the second half of the Year-2006.
Q. What is the final number of JF-17s to be procured? Is it still 150 aircraft or has the number been raised due to the failure in procuring the 4th generation fighter?
A. Before answering the question, it would be appropriate to clarify the fact that PAF has not failed in procuring the hi-tech aircraft. As a matter of fact, PAF is only keeping its options open for the time being, for procurement of such an aircraft.
As far as the JF-17 is concerned, the number and induction schedule of this aircraft in PAF would be regulated according to the operational requirements of the service. Therefore, there is a lot of flexibility in the induction schedule and the total number of aircraft, which would be acquired by the PAF over the years. In the same context, it would be appropriate to mention that JF-17s manufacturing facilities will have enough capacity to meet the domestic as well as foreign customers demands, simultaneously. Hence, lack of production capacity would never become a factor in the induction of a required number of JF-17 aircraft in the PAF.
Q. When will the dual-seat JF-17 aircraft be produced and what will be the ratio of these aircraft in PAFs JF-17 fleet vis-à-vis single-seat aircraft?
A. Presently, the Project is concentrating on timely serial production of single seat JF-17 aircraft. Since an urgent requirement for production of a dual-seat model does not exist, therefore, the schedule for serial production of dual-seat aircraft has not been determined as yet. For the same reason, the ratio of dual-seat aircraft versus single-seat aircraft in PAFs JF-17 fleet has also not been finalised as yet.
Q. Will the first batch of JF-17s be equipped with an in-flight refuelling system? Will in-flight refuelling be based on a buddy refuelling system or will a tanker fleet be actually required?
A. The serial production of JF-17 aircraft will have the air-to-air refuelling capability, but the initial batch of these aircraft will not have the air-to-air refuelling kit installed on them. Nevertheless, basic design of all the JF-17 aircraft fulfils all the essential requirements for providing air-to-air refuelling capability. Therefore, by simple modification of an air-to-air refuelling kit, the first batch of aircraft will also be modified for the air-to-air refuelling capability.
Buddy refuelling is a good option, but in many tactical situations, the need for a tanker aircraft cannot be ignored. Therefore, acquisition of tanker aircraft is a natural requirement for any Air Force, which desires to have the air-to-air refuelling capability on its fighter fleet.
Jane's Defence Weekly
Interview: Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Pakistan Air Force Chief of the Air Staff
Farhan Bokhari JDW Correspondent =Islamabad
Interview: Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, Pakistan Air Force Chief of the Air S-rao-qamar.jpg
A year after the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was called to join the country's military effort in combating Taliban militants along the border with Afghanistan, the planned arrival in August of the first air-to-air refuelling aircraft on lease from Ukraine for training purposes carries a special significance.
By 2010, the PAF plans to complete the induction of up to four Ilyushin Il-78 aircraft fitted with a mid-air refuelling capability, extending the capacity of its fighter aircraft to patrol areas over the border region.
Western defence officials see the induction of a mid-air refuelling capability as a significant boost to the PAF at a time when the force aims to reconcile itself with duties related to anti-terror operations while maintaining what its senior commanders describe as a "minimum deterrence" against the much larger Indian Air Force (IAF).
According to the chief of the air staff of the PAF, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, the refuelling capability is an "extremely significant" development. "This is an absolutely new capability we are getting, which we are inducting. We never had this capability in the Pakistan Air Force," ACM Qamar told Jane's.
The PAF's operations in Pakistan's northern areas, ranging from the northern Swat valley and its surrounding region, have been carried out mainly by some of the 45 US-supplied F-16 multirole fighter aircraft in Pakistan's inventory.
"These armed aircraft can stay for up to four, five, six hours in the area," ACM Qamar said.
"During this time, if there is any militant attack anywhere in the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas], these aircraft can go there immediately, within minutes, and they can bomb the militants. It will create the right kind of deterrence against the militants."
ACM Qamar said the PAF's operations in the north have brought significant pressure to bear on Taliban militants, who were on the advance until the recent military campaign in Swat began reversing the tide. "They [Taliban militants] never see us on the ground. The only time they find out that an aircraft has struck is when the bomb explodes on them. It creates a great psychological impact."
The PAF's experience in the past year is beginning to influence its future plans, both in terms of operational procedures as well as the choice of aircraft and ammunition.
"This was a new kind of warfare for us. The PAF was focused on enemy air forces. We remained focused on enemy land forces and enemy air forces and, therefore, we were preparing ourselves to fight against organised modern air forces and against modern armies," ACM Qamar said. "We never thought we would be required to fight against militants or be involved in counter-insurgency operations. When we started this [counter-insurgency], we had to learn while on the job. We had to re-orient our thinking, we had to refine our ... existing SOPs [standard operating procedures] and we had to develop new SOPs for this kind of warfare. However, we did that very quickly."
This experience has led the PAF to identify new areas for development, such as acquiring more precision-guided bombs, enhanced night precision attack capabilities and the capability to monitor communications and track the movement of militants.
The PAF's other, already established, requirements include the development of the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, co-produced with China.
The PAF plans to eventually induct up to 250 JF-17 fighters, making the aircraft the backbone of its inventory. The first 'fully made in Pakistan' JF-17 is expected to be produced by the end of this year at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in Kamra, north of Islamabad. However, there is still a requirement for a more advanced fighter aircraft, as the PAF prepares to counter the future edge that may be acquired by the IAF once it completes the planned purchase of 126 multirole combat aircraft (MRCAs)
"We knew about this requirement of the Indian Air Force for 126 latest-generation fighter aircraft. Yes, it is an alarming development because when they get 126 such capable aircraft, then we also need to have something matching to counter that threat," ACM Qamar said.
For the PAF, not only will the induction of 14 used F-16 aircraft and 18 new F-16C/D aircraft figure prominently in narrowing the gap, but continuing negotiations with China to purchase up to 36 FC-20 fighter aircraft - designated the J-10 in China - will also play an important role.
ACM Qamar said the PAF has finalised the technical proposal for the FC-20 and informed the Chinese of its requirements.
"[The technical proposal] is more or less finalised now. There are some changes that are required, which [the Chinese] are making," he said.
The next stage of the contract will involve financial negotiations between China and Pakistan. ACM Qamar believes that, following the signing of a contract, it will take two to two-and-a-half years before the first FC-20 aircraft is received.
Other elements of the PAF's force expansion include the purchase of four Erieye airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft from Sweden.
The PAF expects to receive the first of these aircraft by end of this year and the other three next year.
ACM Qamar said the PAF has also signed a contract for the purchase of four Chinese airborne early warning and control aircraft. The first of these is due to arrive in 2011 and the remaining three will be delivered in 2012.
INTERVIEW WITH A PAF VIPER PILOT
Q. What is a PAF F-16 pilot doing in Turkey?
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the Turkish Air Force (TuAF) have a long-standing pilot exchange programme, which goes back a couple of decades under which, at any given time, two PAF pilots are in Turkey and two TuAF pilots are in Pakistan. Since the PAF and the TuAF share two common aircraft the T-37 trainer and the F-16 both countries exchange pilots on the each of these aircraft. So right now we have one PAF pilot flying TuAF T-37s and another PAF pilot flying TuAF F-16s in Turkey and one TuAF pilot flying PAF T-37s and one Tu-AF pilot flying PAF F-16s in Pakistan.
Q. How long is the duration of the secondment?
The average secondment is 2 years, but it could be less or more depending on various factors.
Q. What is the basis for PAFs selection of a pilot for secondment to the TuAF F-16 squadrons?
The selection is done by the PAF and is based purely on merit. They start with your academy reports and the final report is given by your squadron commander. The TuAF requirement is that the pilot must have a minimum of 250 hours on the F-16 before joining the TuAF F-16 squadrons.
Q. What is the PAF criterion for selecting a pilot for its F-16 squadrons?
A pilot must have an outstanding record and a minimum of 500 hours on either the F-7 or the Mirages or both aircraft. Additionally, he must have the right aptitude and the ability to learn and apply his learning. The F-16 is not a simple aircraft to fly. Usually, most pilots go from the F-7 to the Mirages before coming to the F-16. This route washes out the weaker pilots.
Q. Which route did you follow?
I went straight to the F-16 after logging 450 hours on the F-7P.
Q. Which PAF F-16 squadron were you flying with before secondment to the TuAF?
No. 9 Squadron Griffins.
Q. What squadrons and what airbases do you fly out of in Turkey?
I have flown from different airbases with different squadrons on different F-16 types and this depends on the mission training that is being undertaken at a given time. I have served at two air bases Mirzofen and Balekesir.
Q. What F-16 Blocks have you flown in Turkey?
I have flown all three TuAF F-16 Blocks - the Blocks 30, 40 and 50. I am the second PAF exchange pilot to have flown the TuAF Block 50 as previously the Turks did not give PAF pilots access to the Block 50.
Q. Why was that?
US restrictions. However, once the sanctions were lifted and talks began to purchase Block 52s for the PAF, it no longer remained an issue because we would be flying a more advanced version than the Turks. Thats when the US allowed the Turks to give us access to the Block 50. The Turks have been very cooperative with the PAF.
Q. What kind of mission training did you get on the TuAF F-16s?
We are trained for all types of missions since most TuAF F-16s squadrons are multi-role. However, I was primarily trained for air-to-air combat in the air defence role.
Q. Any BVR training?
Q. Which BVR missile?
The AIM-120 AMRAAM Charlie.
Q. What are the differences in training methodologies between the PAF and TuAF?
There are substantial differences. TuAF follows the US and NATO training methodologies where everything is written down and you have to follow set procedures. This is not necessarily bad because these procedures are based on experience. They learnt this after their experience in air-to-air combat in Vietnam. However, the downside is that you tend to get bogged down into following procedures and you become predictable. In the PAF, pilots are given more freedom to come up with their own solutions. Our training approach is more similar to the Israelis than NATO. We do more seat of the pants type of flying and are required to be more creative.
Q. Have you taken part in any Anatolian Eagle exercise?
PAF has been participating in the annual Anatolian Eagle exercises since 2004. I have participated in three Anatolian Eagles one national and two international.
Q. What is the difference between national and international?
TuAF conducts annual Anatolian Eagle exercises - one version is national, for TuAF only and the other is international, with friendly air forces. TuAF has honoured the PAF by also letting its pilots fly in the national Anatolian Eagle exercises under Turkish command and wearing Turkish flags and badges. This is a unique honour given only to PAF pilots. The exchange pilots also get to fly TuAF F-16s in the Anatolian Eagle international exercises. So you could have 6 visiting PAF pilots flying their own PAF F-16s and the one PAF exchange pilot flying with the Turks in a TuAF F-16.
Q. Any memorable experiences that you would like to share?
On one occasion in one of the international Anatolian Eagles - PAF pilots were pitted against RAF Typhoons, a formidable aircraft. There were three set-ups and in all three, we shot down the Typhoons. The RAF pilots were shocked.
Q. Any particular reason for your success?
NATO pilots are not that proficient in close-in air-to-air combat. They are trained for BVR engagements and their tactics are based on BVR engagements. These were close-in air combat exercises and we had the upper hand because close-in air combat is drilled into every PAF pilot and this is something we are very good at.
Q. Israel has also participated in some Anatolian Eagles. Any opportunity to fly with or against the Israelis?
Turkey ensures that the Israeli AF and the PAF are kept as far apart from each other as possible and this has more to do with the Israeli AFs reluctance to be part of any military exercise involving the PAF than vice versa. The Israelis have told the Turks that they dont want any Pakistani on or near a base in which the Israelis are stationed.
Q. What are the Isrealis afraid of?
What they fear most is that we might learn about their tactics, especially BVR countermeasure tactics, which they have mastered.
Q. I heard a rumour that the TuAF once gave PAF pilots the opportunity to fly with and against the Israelis in TuAF F-16s pretending to be Turkish pilots even letting them sit in the Turkish-Israeli ACMI de-briefs?
Q. Are the Turks interested in the JF-17?
They are intrigued by it and very happy with what Pakistan has been able to achieve.
Q. Any chance of them placing orders?
There is no indication of that. They are not in the same situation as us. Being NATO members, they have many choices. They are producing the F-16, so while they are happy for Pakistan, I dont think they will be purchasing the JF-17 as their requirements are already fulfilled by the F-16.
Q. What about replacing their ageing F-5?
They will probably replace the F-5s with F-16s and go for the F-35 as their hi-tech fighter.
Q. Whats after Turkey?
I will transfer to PAF Shahbaz, Jacobabad this summer for conversion to the Block 52s.
Q. Who will do the conversion training?
The conversion will be done by PAF pilots who are currently undergoing conversion training in the USA and will be returning to Pakistan in a few months time.
Q. Do you think you will have an edge over other PAF pilots are being picked from local squadrons?
Not only will I have an edge, I will be responsible for assisting the Block 52 instructors based on my experience with the Block 50.
Q. The publicly-available videos and photographs recently released by Lockheed Martin show the first PAF Block 52 C/Ds without conformal fuel tanks (CFTs). Can you confirm whether the PAF aircraft are coming with CFTs?
Yes. All 18 Block 52s will be fitted with CFTs when they are released to the PAF, which is expected to be in June this year. The CFTs are detachable add-ons and it is not necessary for the PAF to always fly with them. The CFTs can be attached and detached to suit PAFs needs at any given time.
Q. One of the stories going around is that the Block 52s are coming with strings attached: (i) the PAF can only base them in one airbase, Jacobabad; (ii) they cannot be used for offensive operations beyond Pakistans borders; (iii) some sort of monitoring mechanisms will be put in place to monitor the location of each aircraft and (iv) PAF cannot take them outside Pakistan without the permission of the US. Are these correct?
To some extent, yes. However, it is important to understand the background to these conditions.
When the PAF asked for the Block 52, the initial US reaction was no. Their main concern was that if this potent technology could be released to Pakistan, sooner or later, it would end up in the hands of the Chinese who would reverse engineer it. It was the PAF that offered a solution. We could place the Block 52s in a separate airbase where the Chinese would have no access. This meant an airbase that had no Chinese aircraft. We could not base them in Sargodha because we would not deny the Chinese access to our most important airbase. Jacobabad was a forward base which had been revamped by the Americans for Operation Enduring Freedom, including a new first-class runway, so it was the first choice. The US agreed to this proposal provided that it would have the right to monitor the aircraft.
To recall an interesting little story: soon after the first F-16s were delivered to Pakistan in the mid-80s, the PLAAF Chief visited Sargodha. The Americans were there as well. As a gesture of courtesy, the PAF showed the PLAAF Chief one of the F-16s and let him sit in the cockpit. Some US technicians were there looking on. As soon as the PLAAF Chief sat in the F-16 cockpit, the first thing he did was to start measuring the HUD with his fingers, you know, when you extend your little finger and thumb to measure something? This worried the Americans.
Q. What are the monitoring mechanisms? I have heard they will have US personnel stationed at Jacobabad.
The US personnel stationed at Jacobabad will be transitional. They will be training PAF aircrew on the maintenance of the Block 52. Most of these US personnel will be from Lockheed Martin. The US does not need to have personnel physically present in Jacobabad to monitor the Block 52s.
Q. Could you elaborate?
They have ways of keeping an eye on the Block 52s without being personally present. The main concern is the transfer of cutting-edge technology the avionics and radar, the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) the Sniper pod. They have put digital seals all the sensitive technologies, which can only be opened via a code, which only they know. If there is a malfunction or these parts need to be serviced, they will be taken out of the Block 52s and shipped back to the US for repairs/servicing. If we try to pry open these systems without the codes, inbuilt alarms will be relayed to the Americans, which will be a breach of the contract.
Q. Will the Americans be able to track the locations of the Block 52s through some sort of tracking devices hidden inside the aircraft?
If there are tracking devices then they will be inside the sealed systems, like the avionics suites or the sniper pods because we will not have the ability to look inside. If their Predator and Reaper drones are transmitting their GPS locations via satellite so can a Block 52 F-16.
Even though Turkey produces the F-16, there are some components that are manufactured in the US and only come to Turkey for the final assembly. In one incident, a Turkish Block 50 crashed and the pilot was killed. They salvaged the wreckage and laid it out in hanger and started putting together the pieces to find out the cause. They found a piece of sealed equipment which had cracked open and inside they found some device that looked like a bug. Upon inquiry, it turned out to be a tracking device.
Q. Doesnt that worry the PAF?
Im sure it does. However, the PAF considers the Block 52 a bonus aircraft. We are not depending on it for our entire air defence. It is a temporary force multiplier until we have enough squadrons of JF-17s and FC-20s. The opportunity to know what the latest technology is capable of is enough justification to purchase these aircraft.
Q. If the PAF cannot cross the border with these Block 52, what is the purpose of the Sniper pods and the air-to-ground munitions that we are getting?
Those are for use against terrorists who are waging a war against Pakistan. The fact is that the Block 52s will give us the capability to mount successful counter insurgency operations against terrorists in the tribal areas.