Pakistan is touting its home-grown JF-17 as a threat to the Rafale fighter of India. There is a good chance both will meet over the Himalayan Highlands. These propaganda claims are part of China's jabs to use Pakistan to prickle India, though indirectly.
The Global Times is a mouthpiece of Beijing and EurAsian Times stated that the Thunder has all the features of the J-20, claimed by these outlets, saying that it will have better performance.
Publicity about the Pakistani fighter on the web shows the plane has the most common technologies from the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China. But, the PAF has installed some tech of its own. The components of the Thunder are described as off the shelf Chinese technology, reported Defence news.
Inside the cockpit is a modern holographic heads-up display that is larger with a wide-angle, also used in the J-20. With an advanced sensor system that detects hostile missiles locking onto the plane, used in a J-20 type too.
The pilot of the plane has situational awareness when it is crucial when locked in combat with an F-35 or the F-18 block III. Flying the Pakistani Air Force plane is based on 4th generation jets, not 4++ like the Rafale. More awareness with less loop on actively managing the jet is an innovation. For the planned Block 3 Thunder, it will have information-based warfare capability and weapons enhanced, said Yang Wei, designer of the fighter jet.
Armed with PL-15 missiles
When the Indian Air Force got wind of an improved Thunder PAK JF-17 will be armed with Chinese PL-15 missiles for air to air combat. Another is the addition of an infrared search and track system that includes a redesigned airframe that has cross-section. Claims of having a pseudo-stealthy airframe are part of its design. Pentagon officials are worried over the PL-15 alleged by sources.
One concern of the U.S. is how far the PL-15 can hit a target, which is supposed to be 300 km though less with more range than AI-120 AMRAAM. It has as a 180 km maximum range built-in to hit targets.
According to general Herbert Carlisle, the PL-15 has more range than current U.S. missiles in 2015. China has been making weapons like the PL-15 with longer stand-off distances. He told FlightGlobal that the U.S. should make something way better.
PL-15 missile is guided by radar to its target and touted as better than what either U.S. or Russia can offer. Pakistan is needling the IAF for their lesser capable arms.
PL-15 is more than 4 meters with radar, which China claims is powerful. Lastly, is the rocket motor pushing the missile along. The PLA is afraid of the superior American AWACS craft and flying tankers that they don't have. Fear is great when these U.S. assets are in the air because Pakistan and China have paltry capabilities compared to that.
At some point, the PAF JF-17 did not mention it had cheaper and less sophisticated motors for the PL-15. But the Rafale has far more advanced avionics and their Meteor missile has a 150 km strike distance. It is smaller than PL-15.
Related article: Pakistan's JF-17 Has One Best Advantage Over Stealth F-35