After many months of sporadic updates at best, it seems that Deka Ironworks is poised to begin talking a lot more about their representation of the joint Chinese-Pakistani 4th gen multi-role fighter jet, the JF-17 Thunder. There’s even news about the release date for this jet which is the clearest indication of how progress is being made.
The latest info and screenshots
Six new screenshots and a new video showing off the jet’s UFCP, primary interface for IFF and navigation, in action are the first of what will probably be many new images coming in the next few months.
Deka Ironworks also indicates that they intend, barring issues, to release to early access by summer of 2019. At this point we don’t know how feature complete the aircraft will be at that point or if they intend to follow a model similar to Eagle Dynamics with the F/A-18C where the jet’s main systems are fully implemented but weapons are developed over time.
We’re also learning about how the jet’s countermeasure system will be programmed. A series of different countermeasure program options are available but they have to be pre-set using the DCS World menu systems.
I think this is a great way to handle pre-programming and I’d love to see this on more modules where appropriate.
A little about this aircraft
Deka Ironworks is producing a simulation of the Block I version of the JF-17. In contrast, most modern JF-17s are now being upgraded to Block III with several notable upgrades. For our purposes, we’ll be able to experience an earlier model.
Powered by a RD-93, a derivative of the RD-33 in the MiG-29, the Block I JF-17 started service in Pakistan in 2010 and both China and Pakistan are aiming for export of future versions of the jet to a wide variety of countries.
The JF-17 Thunder has a very interesting development history. The Thunder owes its roots to the MiG-21 (the Chinese built J-7/F-7 actually) and a plan by Pakistan to upgrade their F-7s with western avionics. A long winding development plan from there lead to several redesigns and a collaboration with the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation in China to ultimately build the JF-17.
The JF-17 Block I is something of an analog to earlier blocks of the F-16C. Fly-by-wire controls, multi-role capability, +8G capable, and a variety of defensive aids gives the JF-17 quite a range of ability. It may not be exactly the same level of performance (with less available engine power, power to weight, and range) but certainly within a similar set of capabilities on the surface.
By DCS World standards, the JF-17 will also be one of the most recent in history. The Block I aircraft were built starting in 2006 and brought into service by 2010 which edges out the 2005 spec’ed F/A-18C module by a few years.
This will also be one of the first “REDFOR” aircraft to come to DCS World in a full clickable cockpit form. This gives the JF-17 some extra added interest in that way. The possibility that future versions of the real jet could be sold to a couple dozen countries (many current or former J/F-7 users) probably helps expand the appeal for sim pilots around the world.
Deka Ironworks has already shown off the jet with the PL-5 and PL-12 (or SD-10) short and medium range missiles. They have also shown a short video of the jet operating a CM-802 anti-ship missile with stand-off range.
In real life the jet is also operating with the MAR-1, a Brazilian anti-radiation missile similar to the HARM. Could this be a part of the mix for DCS World? I don’t think we have that information yet.
A GSh-23-2 cannon provides the aircraft with a close-in gun option.
This aircraft is, in short, one with quite a range of abilities. In DCS World multiplayer circles, there’s great interest in having a full fidelity module to support the “REDFOR” side and with this one jet that can “do it all.” This may be quite an interesting module for flight sim fans thinking along those lines.
I will be following the news closely on this as we approach summer of 2019.
Here are some additional resources for reading up on the JF-17: