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Pakistan successfully upgrades JF-17 Thunder for nuclear missions: report

03 July, 2024 16:51

A US based think tank revealed that the Pakistan Air Force has upgraded its ‘JF-17 Thunder’ for nuclear missions.

The move comes after India inducted the French-built nuclear-armed Rafale fighters in its flet.

Recently, the jet was pictured equipped with a mysterious missile during a parade rehearsal.

According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), an American think tank, analyzed photographs captured in 2023 to find that the RAAD I, Pakistan’s only nuclear-capable Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), has been integrated with JF-17.

Currently, the PAF uses Mirage III/Vs for the air deterrence role.

As for the missile, it was first tested in 2007 and can be deployed for both “conventional or nuclear” roles.

As Pakistan plans to retire its aging Mirage III and V aircraft, and JF-17 will take over its air-nuclear deterrence role.

The first image of a JF-17 supporting the nuclear configuration was revealed in the 2023 Pakistan Day Parade rehearsals.

FAS purchased the original image to ascertain if the RAAD deployed on the JF-17 image is indeed nuclear-capable.

Pakistan successfully upgrades JF-17 Thunder for nuclear missions: report

Furthermore, it analyzed that the design differences between RAAD deployed on the JF-17 and the ALCM.

“From these observations, it is likely that Pakistan has made significant progress toward equipping its JF-17s with the capability to eventually supplement–and possibly replace–the nuclear strike role of the aging Mirage III/Vs,” the FAS’ analysis read.

“It is evident that Pakistan has redesigned the RAAD-II ALCM, but little information has been confirmed about the purpose or capabilities associated with this new design. It is also unclear whether either of the Raad systems has been deployed, but this may only be a question of when rather than if,” the analysis adds.

About JF-17 Thunder

The JF-17 ‘Thunder’ is not only the mainstay of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) but also the country’s flagship defense export product.

The JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft was jointly developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corp.

After its first flight in 2003, JF-17 airframes were initially produced solely in China. Presently, Pakistan manufactures 58 percent of the aircraft, with the remaining 42 percent produced in China.

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