The Joint Fighter-17 (JF-17) and Mikoyan-Gurevich-21 (MiG-21) made headlines across the globe in February 2019, with the latter being in it for all the wrong reasons.
The JF-17 is a lightweight, single-engine, 4th generation combat jet. It has been jointly developed by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China.
The JF-17 fighter can perform multiple roles including interception, ground attack, anti-ship, and aerial reconnaissance. In addition to this, it can deploy a number of weapons including air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles as well.
On the other hand, the MiG-21 is a single-engine 2nd generation fighter supersonic interceptor jet. It was developed by Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the early 1950s during the Soviet era. It took its first flight in 1955 and was officially introduced in the 1959.
Around 60 countries operated the MiG-21 at one point. It is still in service in many countries almost six decades after its inaugural flight. With around 11,500, the MiG-21 remains the most-produced supersonic jet and the most-produced combat jet.
In February 2019, both JF-17 and MiG-21 were involved in an aerial fight. On 26 February, Indian Air Force (IAF) first violated the Pakistani airspace. A day later, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) conducted a retaliatory attack.
PAF used the JF-17 and shot down IAF’s MiG-21 as the former was returning after successfully targeting Indian military installations. As a result, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, landed in Pakistan after his MiG-21 jet was blown midair chasing the JF-17.
While the JF-17 is set to perform aerial maneuvers on the National Day Parade to be held on 23 March in Islamabad and will continue to do so for many years to come, in October last year IAF had announced to retire MiG-21, its longest serving fighter jet, in the next three or four years in the wake of a series of tragic event, including several accidents and international disgrace.
Let’s have a look at the detailed comparison of the JF-17 and MiG-21 fighter jets.
|Generation||4th generation||2nd generation|
|Role||Multi-role||Fighter and interceptor|
|Crew||1 (single-seat JF-17A) or 2 (dual-seat JF-17B)||1|
|Length||47 feet||49 feet|
|Wingspan||31 feet||23 feet|
|Height||15 feet||13 feet|
|Wing area||263 sq. ft.||250 sq. ft.|
|Empty weight||7,965 kg||5,339 kg|
|Max takeoff weight||13,500 kg||8,800 kg|
|Fuel capacity||5,830 kg||4,380 kg|
|Powerplant||1 x Klimov RD-93 afterburning turbofan with DEEC, 49.4 kN thrust dry, 84.4 kN with afterburner||1 × Tumansky R-25-300 afterburning turbojet, 40.18 kN thrust dry, 69.58 kN with afterburner|
|Maximum speed||Mach 1.6||Mach 1.06|
|Combat range||1,450 km||1,210 km|
|Service ceiling||55,510 feet||58,400 feet|
|Guns||1 × 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon or 1 × 30 mm GSh-30-2 twin-barrel cannon||1 × internal 23 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23L autocannon with 200 rounds|
|Hardpoints||8 (2 × wingtip, 4 × under-wing, 1 × under-fuselage, 1 × under-chin) with capacity for dual ejector racks on each under-wing hardpoint||5 (4 underwing + 1 ventral, reserved for fuel drop tanks)|
|Unguided bombs||250 kg Pre-fragmented bomb
|2 × 500 kg bombs
2 × 250 kg bombs
NORINCO GB-250A NORINCO GB-500
GIDS Range Extension Kit
|KLJ-7-A Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Fire-Control Radar||RSIU-5V|
|ALR-67 Rader Warning Receiver (RWR)||SRZO-2M|
|S740 Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS)||ARK-10|
|JZ/YD 125 IFF System||SPO-10|
|Link-17 Tactical Data Link||RP-22M|
|JF-17A Block 1||MiG-21 izd. 65|
|JF-17A Block 2||Mig-21 F|
|JF-17B Block 2||MiG-21 P-12|
|JF-17 Block 3||MiG-21 Bison|
MiG-21 has a number of variants. Only some of them are mentioned here.