Pakistan’s JF-17s can now target enemy warships such as India’s growing fleet of aircraft carriers. In 2017 and 2018 Pakistan Airforce bought 60 CM-400AKG anti-ship missiles.
The Pakistani air force has acquired more than a hundred JF-17s from China in order to complement older F-16s, Mirages and J-7s.
The CM-400AKG, a product of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, is an unusual weapon. Unlike many other anti-ship missiles, it follows a high ballistic flight path.
The supersonic standoff missile first appeared in public at an air show in Zhuhai, China in 2012. The missile appeared in a display with the JF-17, a highly-evolved derivative of the MiG-21that China has sold to Pakistan, Myanmar and Nigeria at a cost of around $30 million per plane.
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Six years later, the Pakistani defense ministry revealed that it purchased 60 CM-400AKGs at a total cost of $100 million. The acquisition transformed the country’s JF-17s into potent ship-killers.
In 2018 photos circulated apparently depicting a JF-17 firing a CM-400AKG in a test that perhaps took place a few years earlier.
The CM-400AKG reportedly weighs around 2,000 pounds and carries either a 300-pound fragmentation warhead or a 400-pound penetrating warhead. It reportedly can fly as far as 150 miles.
The missile boasts an internal navigation system that guides it near its target, at which point a combination infrared- and radar-seeker takes over. Sources claim the weapon’s circular-error probability is as small as 15 feet, meaning it has a 50-50 chance of striking within 15 feet of its Aimpoint.
The #Pakistan Air Force (PAF) ordered 60 CM-400AKG missiles from China in 2017-2018.
How will this help the PAF anti-ship warfare capabilities, see the analysis here: https://t.co/uNfeyo6cz3
— Quwa (@QuwaGroup) October 4, 2019
The CM-400AKG reportedly can maneuver in its final seconds of flight, helping it to dodge enemy defenses. It tops out at five times the speed of sound, sources claim.
Some observers have pointed to the CM-400AKG’s high speed in order to draw comparisons with the Indian armed forces’ own Brahmos cruise missile. Itself a derivative of the Soviet Oniks cruise missile, the air-, sea-, undersea- and land-launched Brahmos can fly as fast as Mach three and strike targets as far away as 370 miles.
The CM-400AKG’s size, range and accuracy are consistent with the capabilities of other anti-ship weapons. What’s odd is the weapon’s flight profile. Most anti-ship missiles launch from low altitude in order to avoid detection. The CM-400AKG, by contrast, is designed to launch from high altitude.
According to the manufacturers’ figures, a fighter such as a JF-17 would launch the CM-400AKG at an altitude between 26,200 and 39,400 feet while traveling as fast as Mach .9.
The weapon’s apparent origin as a development of the SY-400 short-range ballistic missile could explain this odd profile. The CM-400AKG like other high-flying ballistic missiles consumes solid fuel and does not require an air inlet. Lower-flying weapons often combine liquid fuel and an air-breathing motor.
Another key innovation that occurred during the development process was the inclusion of diverterless supersonic intakes (DSI) on the JF-17 design. In 2003 the first prototype took to the air. By 2006 the JF-17 was finalized and ready to enter serial production. It was formally adopted in 2007. The first fully Pakistani-manufactured JF-17 was created in 2008.
The JF-17’s designers have proven adept at keeping up with the times following its entry into service.
The initial run of fighters for Pakistan have been referred to as Block I JF-17s. Block II JF-17s introduced a multitude of new capabilities and upgrades, including composites in the airframe for reduced weight, air to air refueling, a full fly-by-wire system, and a better radar.
China offered to replace the Russian RD-93s with their own WS-13 in Block II JF-17s, but Pakistan opted to stick with the Russian engine.
For the Block III, China hopes to add an AESA radar to the JF-17 and further improve the avionics and weapons compatibility of the JF-17.
The standard JF-17 incorporates the MIL-STD-1760 databus in some implementations which allows compatibility with Western and Eastern weapons.