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PAF Opts for Chinese WS-13IPE Engine Over Russian RD-93MA for JF-17 Upgrade

Meet Pakistan's Cutting-Edge JF-17- Block 3 and Exciting Features.

In a strategic shift, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has decided to deviate from its initial plan of upgrading the JF-17 Thunder fighter jets with the Russian RD-93MA engine. Instead, the PAF has chosen the Chinese WS-13IPE engine, signaling a significant move in the realm of engine procurement for its jointly developed aircraft with China.

Russian Klimov RD-93 turbofan engine

The JF-17 Thunder, a collaborative effort between Pakistan and China, has been relying on the Russian Klimov RD-93 turbofan engine. Seeking to enhance the aircraft’s capabilities, the PAF initially considered the RD-93MA upgrade, which promised a substantial increase in thrust compared to its predecessor.

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However, the challenges of securing spare parts and maintenance support from Russia prompted a re-evaluation of the PAF’s engine upgrade strategy.

Stepping into this scenario, Guizhou Liyang Aero Engine Co., Ltd. presented the WS-13 as a powerful, domestically produced alternative. While the baseline variant offered only a modest increase in thrust over the RD-93, its mass production, which commenced in 2021, and the readily available support infrastructure played pivotal roles in swaying the PAF’s decision.

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Engine RD-93MA’s 91.7 kN Thrust

The WS-13, developed by Guizhou Liyang Aero Engine Co., Ltd., boasts a thrust of 86 kilonewtons, a marginal improvement over the RD-93’s 81.3 kN.

It is worth noting that this falls short of the RD-93MA’s 91.7 kN thrust, potentially leaving some room for improvement. However, the decision to opt for the WS-13 was likely influenced by the challenges faced in obtaining support from Russia, as well as the assurance of a steady supply chain from the Chinese side.

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One noteworthy aspect is China’s ongoing development of a more powerful 93kN engine for its FC-31 fighter jets. This introduces an interesting dynamic, as the PAF might end up operating the FC-31 due to relaxed payment terms and discounts offered by China to Pakistan.

The WS-13IPE’s selection might be seen as a pragmatic choice, balancing immediate needs with future considerations.

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Exploring the intricacies of its technological prowess, the JF-17 integrates a sophisticated three-axis digital fly-by-wire flight control system, an infrared search, and track (IRST) system, and a collaborative effort in the form of a helmet-mounted display and sight (HMD/S) system jointly manufactured by Pakistan and China.

A remarkable feature is the presence of a larger yet thinner holographic wide-angle heads-up display (HUD), providing enhanced visibility and situational awareness. Complementing this, an upgraded electronic warfare management system further solidifies the JF-17 capabilities.

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