Why does Pakistan continue to use F-16s even though they have their own JF-17s?

What features do Pakistani F-16s have which their JF-17s don't?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Because they're really expensive machines that still run well and are still highly capable? $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Jun 6 '20 at 23:49

The airframe of JF-17 is a lot less advanced than F-16(A), even though the electronics are a lot more contemporary.

  1. Payload and Empty weight:

    JF-17 has an empty weight of 14520lb while F-16A is 15600lb. However the maximum takeoff weight are 27999lb and 37500lb respectively. This means the mission consumables (fuel + armament) of JF-17 is only 60% of F-16A(13479lb vs 21900lb).

  2. Powerplant

    JF-17 is powered by RD-33/93 engine with thrust of 18285lb while F-16 is 27000lb. Again JF-17's thrust is only 2/3 of F16.

  3. Fly-by-wire

    To reduce cost JF-17 is only equipped with digital fly-by-wire (FBW) system in the pitch axis but F-16 has FBW on all three. This, together higher thrust, makes F-16 are more agile fighter.

JF-17 by design is a lighter and cheaper fighter than F-16, so it inherently has a relatively smaller range and payload capacity, which is unfortunately worsened by its excessive structural weight. Had PAF not maintained a number of heavier and more capable fighters, these short comings of JF-17 could be exploited to catastrophic levels by their potential enemies equipped with much more capable heavyweight SU-30s.

Apparently F-16s in PAF are showing their age and PAF has been seeking for replacements for a while, e.g. Chengdu J-10/FC-20 and Shenyang J-31/FC-31. However (IMO) due to PAF's tight budget neither are making any meaningful progress as of right now and the combo of JF-17 and F-16 seems sufficiently effective for the current status of geopolitics.


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