India is one of the few countries in the world that is capable of making fighter jets and has so far made 2 fighter jets. The first was the HAL Marut and the second is the IAF Tejas LCA, the only active India-made fighter jet with the Indian Air Force. The IAF Tejas is, in many ways, a step forward for the government’s ‘Make-in-India’ campaign as well as one of the most advanced domestic fighter jets, though it is a Gen 4 fighter jet as compared to the Dassault Rafale. Indian Air Force has only 4.5 General aircraft. Tejas is a single-engine multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft that will replace the old Soviet-era MiG-21 Bison jets.
On the other hand, JF-17 Thunder is a fighter jet jointly developed by China and Pakistan. The JF-17 serves with the Pakistan Air Force, which considers them to be a homemade fighter jet, despite being co-developed with China. The Pakistani JF-17 Thunder is frequently updated and competes against the HAL-Tejas LCA of the Indian Air Force as an advanced indigenous fighter jet. Here’s how the Indian Air Force’s Tejas LCA and Pakistan Air Force’s JF-17 Thunder stack up against each other:
Tejas LCA: In the 1980s, the government started its Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program to replace the old Soviet jet, in which the HAL Tejas made its first flight in 2001. The indigenously built fighter aircraft was inducted into the Indian Air Force in 2016. The first squadron is called Flying Daggers. So far, the IAF has ordered 123 fighter jets, including 40 Tejas Mk 1 and 83 Tejas Mk 1A. 2 squadrons of fighter aircraft are active.
JF-17 Thunder: JF-17 Thunder is jointly developed by Pakistan and China and is also known as CAC FC-1 Xiaolong. It is primarily developed as an economical, modern, multi-role fighter aircraft for the Pakistan Air Force. The JF-17 is designed by China’s “ace designer” Yang Wei, who also designed China’s Chengdu J-20 advanced 5th generation fighter jet. As of 2017, the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex has manufactured 70 Block 1 type jets and 33 Block 2 type jets in the country.
Tejas LCA: The Tejas fighter jet is a lightweight and simple fighter jet with a delta wing arrangement, which makes it light weight and easy to maintain. It is powered by a single General Electric engine rated at 53.9 kN (12,100 lbf) thrust dry, 90 kN (20,200 lbf) with afterburner. The Tejas has a top speed of Mach 1.8 (2222 kmph) and can travel 500 km with a drop tank. It can carry lethal weapons including laser guided bombs, air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, anti-ship missiles, and has Israel’s Elta EL/M-2032 multi-mode fire control radar on board.
JF-17 Thunder: The JF-17 Thunder is available in both single-seat and double-seat configurations, with a maximum top speed of Mach 1.6 (1975 kmph) and a maximum takeoff weight of 12,383 kg. The Thunder is powered by a Klimov RD-93 afterburning turbofan engine with 49.4 kN (11,100 lbf) of dry thrust and 85.3 kN (19,200 lbf) with afterburner. The JF-17 can carry air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, laser-guided warheads and also has a Chinese-made airborne pulse Doppler fire-control radar.
While India’s HAL-built Tejas LCA is a fully indigenous fighter jet, the JF-17 Thunder is a Pakistan-China jointly developed jet. Keeping this aside, the Tejas LCA is also faster, lighter and more powerful engine than the JF-17. It has a higher payload capacity than the JF-17 and can carry advanced weapons. Several countries have shown interest in the Tejas LCA, highlighting the reliability of the fighter jet. The Tejas Mk 1A is expected to be bigger, more advanced and more lethal than the Mk 1 jet.