In the early hours of February 26, 2019, 12 Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 fighter jets from Dassault Aviation, the French company who also manufactures the Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircrafts, entered Pakistani airspace and dropped 1,000-kg laser-guided bombs on Jaish-e-Mohammed terror launch pads across the Line of Control.
The very next day, Pakistan Air Force deployed its US sourced F-16 Falcon and Pakistan-China co-developed JF-17 Thunder fighter jets. Pakistan recently updated its homemade JF-17 Thunder to add more firepower to the jet that competes against the IAF’s Tejas LCA.
Tejas LCA: India has long borrowed its fighter jets from countries like Russia, France and Britain under a license agreement to manufacture it locally by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. However, back in the 1980s, HAL started the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme to replace the ageing Soviet sourced MiG-21. With India’s former Prime Minister giving the LCA its name – Tejas – the indigenously built fighter aircraft was inducted in the Indian Air Force with the IAF placing a 20 jet order initially and the first Tejas Squadron was formed in 2016 called the Flying Daggers.
Till now IAF has placed an order of 40 Tejas Mk 1, including 32 single-seat aircraft and eight twin-seat trainers. IAF has also initiated procurement of a further 83 single-seat fighters in Mk 1A configuration.
JF-17 Thunder: Pakistan has long been dependent on China, United States and Russia for their air firepower. In 1995, Pakistan and China signed a MoU for joint design and development of a new fighter. The same year. USSR’s Mikoyan (known for MIG series of planes) had joined the project to provide “design support”.
The result was the JF-17 Thunder or CAC FC-1 Xiaolong that was primarily developed to meet the Pakistan Air Force’s requirement for an affordable, modern, multi-role combat aircraft. The development of JF-17 was headed by Yang Wei, China’s “ace designer” who has also designed China’s Chengdu J-20.