The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has strongly rejected reports claiming that they are planning to replace the Russian-made engine of JF-17 fighter jet with a new Chinese-made engine. Those reports were mainly from the Chinese media, however, PAC officials have shown their satisfaction with the Russian-made RD-93 engines that are currently in the jets.
According to IHS Jane’s 360, A senior PAC representative has stated that the current engines are working perfectly and have hit each one of their targets. He further added that during the manufacturing of the JF-17 jets, a number of alternative designs were taken into consideration, but eventually the RD-93 was chosen because the engine was a perfect fit for this application.
The representative from PAC further revealed that before the work had begun on the manufacturing of the JF-17 engines, teams from the air force worked in close collaboration with Klimov Bureau in St. Petersburg. Every aspect of this engine was studied in detail, and after that, the decision to go ahead with the RD-93 engine was made.
Pakistan to build RD-93 engine building domestically
The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex is planning on establishing a full-scale servicing and overhaul facility for the RD-93 engines in Kamra. According to PAC representatives, this step is being taken keeping in mind the long term goals related to JF-17 fighter jets. Pakistan not only wants to add more JF-17s to its fleet but also sell this plane to other countries. There were reports that this jet attracted at least a dozen international parties during the recent Dubai Air Show, and a deal has been reportedly struck with an Asia country for the sale of JF-17 fighter jets. However, the representative of PAC did not disclose the name of that country.
More than five countries have reportedly shown serious interest in purchasing JF-17s, but such claims were also made during the Paris Air Show in June. Therefore, the authenticity of this report cannot be confirmed. This could be a clever ploy for the marketing of the JF-17 Thunder combat aircraft by PAC, which has the capacity to produce 25 aircraft per year. However, question marks still linger over the true export capacity of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra.
Pakistan to purchase Klimov RD-93 engine directly from Moscow
Pakistan is planning to purchase the Klimov RD-93 engines directly from Russia instead of using China as a medium. The relationship between Islamabad and Moscow has improved significantly in recent times, and the two countries recently penned a defense cooperation agreement. According to this agreement, Pakistan is now able to purchase defense-related equipment from Russia, including the Klimov RD-93 engine.
All these developments suggest that Pakistan is not planning to replace these Russian-made engines with Chinese designs. And considering the fact that the RD-93 is working perfectly for the JF-17s, with countries already showing an interest in buying the aircraft, it would be a foolish idea to switch from this tested engine to something new. Moreover, switching from the engines currently being used to something entirely new would require a huge amount of funds.
Pakistan sticking with RD-93 for the Foreseeable Future
Another reason why Pakistan is sticking with these Russian-made engines instead of looking to China is that the Chinese aircraft industry does not enjoy a great reputation when it comes to building powerful and reliable jet engines. Even China’s most advanced fifth-generation fighter prototypes, the Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31, are using Russian-made engines. Hence, it would seem out of order that while China is not even using its own manufactured engine, Pakistan might switch to Chinese-made engines for its JF-17 aircraft.
China can, however, reverse-engineer the Russian aircraft’s powerful AL-117S turbofan engines. But apparently that isn’t the sort of idea Islamabad is going to entertain. And even the most advanced Chinese-made military turbofan, the WS-10, has failed to meet expectations.