The Pakistani/Chinese JF-17 fighter aircraft might not have Russian origins… but it may have Romanian ones!

So how good is Pakistan's JF-17 fighter aircraft? Analysis from RUSI  think-tank's Justin Bronk | Hush-Kit

– Andreas Rupprecht

It is an old and often repeated story that the Soviet MiG Project 33 fighter design influenced the Chinese/Pakistani JF-17, and in my opinion, there is NOTHING in it. The FC-1 aka JF-17 had already well advanced through the original CAC conception, then through the Sino-US cooperation with Grumman under the Super-7 name – and finally by CAC with Pakistani participation. When the “Russians” stepped in, that at least in my opinion it was much too late to gain any substantial redesigns by adding Project 33 (often known incorrectly by its never allocated designation of MiG-33)-genes. Additionally, I’m also convinced that Project 33 ever progressed far to have anything to meaningfully contribute. All I have seen from the Project 33 are a few quite crude desk models and drawings, but I have seen no true detailed blue-print. As such, I’m quite sure, the Russian participation was to modify the airframe – eventually most of all the intake’s airflow – to fit a different engine. As such their contribution was mostly one of engine integration, similar to the integration of the AL-31FN to the J-10.

MiG-37 | Hush-Kit
Pre-order The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes Volume 2. There’s more on the MiG Project 33 in The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes Volume 1.

My main argument for this is that the external shape of the JF-17 fixed, and here I must add a rather weirder idea than Russian influence. It is barely known fcat, that China had originally its foot in the door in the Romanian IAR-95 fighter project, which was to use a WS-9 – aka a RR Spey Mk. 202 (?) – as its powerplant.

Fictional IAR-95
IAR-95 digital image from DCS

And if you compare this very early IAR-95 wind-tunnel model with an early JF-17/FC-1 wind tunnel model in Pakistan, it has at least, I’m my, opinion, more similarities (besides a different tail, saw-tooth in the wing’s leading edge and a slightly different aka lower-placed wing) than to any Project 33 model I know.

In consequence, I would rate Jane’s report as on a major Russian involvement on the design as false – and I know there is a similar claim for the J-10-Lavi connection, all based on an interview with an unknown (he wanted to remain anonymous) Russian technician, who was allegedly involved in that project.

I would say there was for sure a certain Russian involvement, but that certain engineer simply hyped up this involvement – may be to diminish the Chinese part, or to over-emphasize the Russian, or perhaps his own personal contribution – and now after decades it is a de facto accepted fact on social media and no-one is willing or even able to check the facts.

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