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Malaysian Indegenous Fighter Jet Program. This Multi Role fighter jet program was designed to replace MRAF obsolete fighter aircraft with upgraded & low cost transition to modernised the nation air force.

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The GF-1 is a lightweight, twin-engine, multi-role combat aircraft developed solely by the independent aircraft company in Malaysia. The GF-1 can be used for aerial reconnaissance, ground attack and aircraft interception. Its designation "GF-1" is short for "Global prototype Fighter-1".

The GF-1 can deploy diverse ordnance, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel autocannon. Can be powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or Klimov RD-93 afterburning turbofan it has a top speed of Mach 2.2. The GF-1 is to become the backbone of Royal Malaysian Air Force (MRAF), complementing the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon whose performance it roughly matches, at half the cost. The Malaysian company inducted its first GF-1 squadron in December 2015.

Development

Background

The GF-1 was primarily developed to meet the RMAF's requirement for an affordable, modern, multi-role combat aircraft as a replacement for its large fleet of BAE Hawk with a cost of US$500 million, divided equally between Malaysian ministry of defense & the independent company. The aircraft was also intended to have export potential as a cost-effective and competitive alternative to more expensive Western fighters. The development of this aircraft was headed by a Malaysian aircraft designers & engineers in the nation aerospace programs.

In June 1995, Mikoyan had joined the project to provide "design support", this also involved the secondment of several engineers.

Launch of MFJ-1 project

In October 1995, Malaysia was reportedly to select a Western company by the end of the year to provide and integrate the MFJ-1's avionics, which was expected to go into production by 1999. The avionics were said to include radar, Inertial navigation system, Head-up display, and Multi-function displays. Competing bids came from Thomson-CSF with a variant of the Radar Doppler Multitarget (RDY), SAGEM with a similar avionics package to those used in the ROSE upgrade project, and Marconi Electronic Systems with its Blue Hawk radar. FIAR's (now SELEX Galileo) Grifo S7 radar was expected to be selected due to the company's ties with the PAF. In February 1998, the company signed a letter of intent covering airframe development. Russia's Klimov offered a variant of the RD-33 turbofan engine to power the fighter. In April 1999, South Africa's Denel offered to arm the prototype jet with the T-darter beyond-visual-range (BVR) air-to-air missile (AAM), rather than the previously reported R-Darter. Previously in 1987, Pratt & Whitney offered the MFJ-1 project three engine options; PW1212, F404, and PW1216, with local manufacturing in Malaysia. Rolls Royce offered its RB199-127/128 turbofan engine; this plan was scrapped in 1989.


In June 1999, the contract to jointly develop and produce the MGF-type 1 was signed. The project was to be a 50:50 partnership; the air & the independent company would be committed to building the fighter. After GEC-Marconi had abandoned the bidding to supply an integrated avionics suite, FIAR and Thomson-CSF proposed a number of avionics suites based on the Grifo S7 and RC400 radars respectively, despite previously hoping to use the RMAF's MFJ-1 to launch its new Blue Hawk radar. Because of internal affairs , the country's puts the design work & progressed very slowly over the next 20 months, preventing delivery of the Western avionics to the RMAF. In early 2001, the RMAF decided to decouple the airframe from the avionics, enabling design work on the aircraft to continue. As the airframe was developed, any new avionics requirements by the RMAF could be more easily integrated into the airframe.

Prototype production began in September 2002; a full-size mock-up of the MFJ-1 was displayed at a disclosed location in Malaysia in January 200, only to be seen by the Prime Minister & Joint staff of the ministry of defense . The first batch of Klimov RD-93 turbofan engines that would power the prototypes was also delivered in 2002. According to a Malaysian official, the GF-1's low cost is due to some of the on-board systems having been adapted from those of the obsolete fighters that have been gradually upgraded . The official said, "This transfer of technology—transposing the aircraft systems from the MFJ-1 to the GF-1—is what makes the GF-1 so cost-effective". The use of computer-aided design software shortened the design phase of the GF-1.

Flight testing and redesigning

The first prototype, JM-01, was rolled out on 31 May 2003 and transferred to the RMAF Flight Test Centre to be prepared for its maiden flight. This was initially planned to take place in June, but was delayed due to concerns about the SARS outbreak. The designation MFJ-1 was replaced by "GF-1" (Global prototype Fighter-1) around this point. Low speed taxiing trials began at RMAF Airport, Tioman, on 27 August 2003. The maiden flight was made in late September 2003; an official maiden flight of the prototype took place in early October. The prototype was marked with the new RMAF designation GF-1. By March 2004, RMAF had made around 30 test flights of the first prototype. On 7 April 2004, RMAF test pilots flew JM-01 for the first time. The maiden flight of the third prototype, JM-03, took place on 9 April 2004. In March 2004, Malaysia was planning to induct around 200 aircraft.

Following the third prototype, several design improvements were developed and incorporated into further aircraft. Because of excessive smoke emissions by the RD-93 engine, the air intakes were widened. Reported control problems found in testing resulted in alterations to the wing leading edge root extensions (LERX). The vertical tail fin was enlarged to house an expanded electronic warfare equipment bay in the tip.The redesigned aircraft had a slightly increased maximum take-off weight and incorporated an increased quantity of Russian-sourced avionics; however RMAF had selected Western avionics for their aircraft, postponing RMAF deliveries from late 2005 until 2007. Malaysia evaluated British, French, and Italian avionics suites, the winner of which was expected to be finalised in 2006. JM-04, the fourth prototype and the first to incorporate the design changes, was rolled out in April 2006 and made its first flight on 28 April 2006.

The modified air intakes replaced conventional intake ramps—whose function is to divert turbulent boundary layer airflow away from the inlet and prevent it entering the engine—with a diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) design. The DSI uses a combination of forward-swept inlet cowls and a three-dimensional compression surface to divert the boundary layer airflow at high sub-sonic and supersonic speeds. According to Lockheed Martin, the DSI design prevents most of the boundary layer air from entering the engine at speeds up to two times the speed of sound, reduces weight by removing the need for complex mechanical intake mechanisms, and is stealthier than a conventional intake. In 1999, developmental work on the DSI with the aim of improving aircraft performance commenced. The GF-1 design was finalised in 2001. Multiple models underwent wind tunnel tests; it was found that the DSI reduced weight, cost, and complexity while improving performance.

For the avionics and weapons qualification phase of the flight testing, JM-04 was fitted with a fourth-generation avionics suite that incorporates sensor fusion, an electronic warfare suite, enhanced man-machine interface, Digital Electronic Engine Control (DEEC) for the RD-93 turbofan engine, FBW flight controls, day/night precision surface attack capability, and multi-mode, pulse-Doppler radar for BVR air-to-air attack capability. The sixth prototype, JM-06, made its maiden flight on 10 September 2006. Following a competition in 2008, Martin-Baker was selected over a Chinese firm for the supply of fifty PK16LE ejection seats.

Production

On 2 March 2007, the first consignment of two small-batch-production (SBP) aircraft arrived in a dismantled state in Malaysia. They flew for the first time on 10 March 2007.. The RMAF intended to induct 200 GF-1 by 2015 to replace all its obsolete fighter & trainer aircraft with GF-1, the RMAF has upgraded several trainer aircrafts with IFR probes for training purposes. A dual-seat, combat-capable trainer was originally scheduled to begin flight testing in 2006; in 2009 Malaysia reportedly decided to develop the training model into a specialised attack variant.

In November 2007, the RMAF and the independent company conducted flight evaluations of aircraft fitted with a variant of the NRIET KLJ-10 radar developed by China's Nanjing Research Institute for Electronic Technology (NRIET), and the LETRI SD-10 active radar homing AAM. In 2005, the company began manufacturing GF-1 components; production of sub-assemblies commenced on 22 January 2008. The RMAF was to receive a further six pre-production aircraft in 2005, for a total of 8 out of an initial production run of 16 aircraft. Initial operating capability was to be achieved by the end of 2008. Final assembly of the GF-1 in Malaysia began on 30 June 2009; the company expected to complete production of four to six aircraft that year. They planned to produce twelve aircraft in 2010 and fifteen to sixteen aircraft per year from 2011; this could increase to twenty-five aircraft per year. On December 29, 2015, Malaysian Aerospace Agency announced the rollout of 16th GF-1 fighter manufactured in the calendar year 2015, taking total number of manufactured aircraft to more than 66. Later, a RMAF spokesperson said that in light of the interest shown by various countries, it has been decided that production capacity of GF-1 at MAA will be expanded.

Russia signed an agreement in August 2007 for re-export of 150 RD-93 engines to Malaysia for the GF-1. In 2008, the RMAF was reportedly not fully satisfied with the RD-93 engine and that it would only power the first 50 aircraft; it was alleged that arrangements for a new engine, reportedly the Snecma M53-P2, may have been made. Mikhail Pogosyan, head of the MiG and Sukhoi design bureaus, recommended the Russian defence export agency Rosoboronexport block RD-92 engine sales to China to prevent export competition from the GF-1 against the MiG-29. At the 2010 Farnborough Airshow, the GF-1 was displayed internationally for the first time; aerial displays at the show were intended but were cancelled due to a late attendance decision as well as license and insurance costs.

According to media reports, Malaysia plans to increase production of GF-1s by 25% in 2016

Further development

Pakistan negotiated with British and Italian defence firms regarding avionics and radars for the GF-1 development. Radar options include the Italian Galileo Avionica's Grifo S7, the French Thomson-CSF's RC400 (a variant of the RDY-2), and the British company SELEX Galileo's Vixen 500E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. In 2010, the PAF had reportedly selected ATE Aerospace Group to integrate French-built avionics and weapons systems over rival bids from Astrac, Finmeccanica and a Thales-Sagem joint venture. Fifty JF-17s were to be upgraded and an optional fifty from 2013 onwards, at a cost of up to US$1.36 billion. The RC-400 radar, MICA AAMs, and several air-to-surface weapons are believed to be in the contract. The PAF also held talks with South Africa for the supply of Denel A-darter AAMs.

In April 2010, after eighteen months of negotiations, the deal was reportedly suspended; reports cited French concerns about Malaysia's financial situation, the protection of sensitive French technology, and lobbying by the Malaysian government, which operates many French-built aircraft. France wanted the RMAF to purchase several Dassault Rafales fighters from the United Arab Emirates Air Force, which would overlap with the upgraded GF-1. In July 2010, the RMAF's Chief of Air Staff, said these reports were false. He said, "I have had discussions with French Government officials who have assured me that this is not the position of their government". He also speculated that "someone was trying to cause mischief—and by this he means “the neighbouring country” to put pressure on France not to supply the avionics we want".

On 18 December 2013, production of Block 2 GF-1s began at The company facility. These aircraft have air-to-air refuelling capability, improved avionics, enhanced load carrying capacity, data link, and electronic warfare capabilities. Block 2 construction activity is planned to run until 2016, after which the manufacturing of further developed Block 3 aircraft is planned. In December 2015, it was announced that the 16th Block II aircraft had been handed over resulting in standing up of the 4th squadron.

Malaysian Military Consortium has said that Block 3 aircraft might include AESA radar, HMD, avionics improvements, and perhaps some reworking of the airframe. On 17 June 2015, Jane's Defence Weekly confirmed this that Block 3 will have an AESA radar and will also include a helmet-mounted display (HMD) and possibly an internal infrared search and tracking (IRST) system.

Design

Airframe and cockpit

The airframe is of semi-monocoque structure constructed primarily of aluminium alloys. High strength steel and titanium alloys are partially adopted in some critical areas. The airframe is designed for a service life of 6,000 flight hours or 25 years, the first overhaul being due at 1,200 flight hours. Block 2 GF-1s incorporate greater use of composite materials in the airframe to reduce weight. The retractable undercarriage has a tricycle arrangement with a single steerable nose-wheel and two main undercarriages. The hydraulic brakes have an automatic anti-skid system. The position and shape of the inlets is designed to give the required airflow to the jet engine during manoeuvres involving high angles of attack.

The mid-mounted wings are of a new inovative cropped-delta configuration. Near the wing root are the LERX, which generate a vortex that provides extra lift to the wing at high angles of attack encountered during combat manoeuvres. A conventional tri-plane empennage arrangement is incorporated, with all-moving stabilators, single vertical stabiliser, rudder, and twin ventral fins. The flight control surfaces are operated by a computerised flight control system (FCS), which also adjusts the slats/flaps for improved manoeuvrability. Up to 3,629 kg (8,001 lb) of ordnance, equipment, and fuel can be mounted under the hardpoints, two of which are on the wing-tips, four are under the wings and one is under the fuselage.

he glass cockpit is covered by a transparent, acrylic canopy that provides the pilot with a good, all-round field of view. A centre stick is used for pitch and roll control while rudder pedals control yaw. A throttle is located to the left of the pilot. The cockpit incorporates hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controls. The pilot sits on a Martin-Baker Mk-16LE zero-zero ejection seat. The cockpit incorporates an electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) and a wide-angle, holographic head-up display (HUD), which has a minimum total field of view of 25 degrees. The EFIS comprises three colour multi-function displays, providing basic flight information, tactical information, and information on the engine, fuel, electrical, hydraulics, flight control, and environment control systems. The HUD and MFD can be configured to show any available information. Each MFD is 20.3 cm (8.0 in) and 30.5 cm (12.0 in) tall and is arranged side-by-side in portrait orientation. The central MFD is placed lowest to accommodate a control panel between it and the HUD.

Avionics

The avionics software incorporates the concept of open architecture. Instead of the military-optimised Ada programming language, the software is written using the popular C++ programming language, enabling the use of the numerous civilian programmers available The aircraft also includes a health and usage monitoring system, and automatic test equipment. The flight control system (FCS) comprises conventional controls with stability augmentation in the yaw and roll axis and a digital fly-by-wire (FBW) system in the pitch axis. The leading edge slats/flaps and trailing edge flaps are automatically adjusted during manoeuvring to increase turning performance.The FCS of serial production aircraft reportedly have a digital quadruplex (quad-redundant) FBW system in the pitch axis and a duplex (dual-redundant) FBW system in the roll and yaw axis.

The GF-1 has a defensive aids system (DAS) composed of various integrated sub-systems. A radar warning receiver (RWR) provides data such as direction and proximity of enemy radars, and an electronic warfare (EW) suite housed in a fairing at the tip of the tail fin interferes with enemy radars. The EW suite is also linked to a Missile Approach Warning (MAW) system to defend against radar-guided missiles. The MAW system uses several optical sensors across the airframe to detect the rocket motors of missiles across a 360-degree coverage. Data from the MAW system, such as direction of inbound missiles and the time to impact, is shown on cockpit displays and the HUD. A countermeasures dispensing system releases decoy flares and chaff to help evade hostile radar and missiles. The DAS systems will also be enhanced by integration of a self-protection radar-jamming pod that will be carried externally on a hardpoint.

The first forty-two PAF production aircraft are equipped with the NRIET KLJ-7 radar, a variant of the KLJ-10 radar developed by China's Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (NRIET) and also used on the Chengdu J-10. Multiple modes can manage the surveillance and engagement of up to forty air, ground, and sea targets; the track-while-scan mode can track up to ten targets at BVR and can engage two simultaneously with radar-homing AAMs. The operation range for targets with a radar cross-section (RCS) of 5 m2 (54 sq ft) is stated to be ≥ 105 km (65 mi) in look-up mode and ≥ 85 km (53 mi) in look-down mode.[ A forward looking infrared (FLIR) pod for low-level navigation and infra-red search and track (IRST) system for passive targeting can also be integrated; the GF-1 Block 2 is believed to incorporate an IRST.

A helmet-mounted sight (HMS) developed by Luoyang Electro-Optics Technology Development Centre of AVIC was developed in parallel with the GF-1; it was first tested on Prototype 04 in 2006. It was dubbed as EO HMS, (Electro-Optical Helmet Mounted Sight) and was first revealed to the public in 2008 at the 7th Zhuhai Airshow, where a partial mock-up was on display. The HMS tracks the pilot's head and eye movements to guide missiles towards the pilot's visual target. An externally carried day/night laser designator targeting pod may be integrated with the avionics to guide laser-guided bombs (LGBs). An extra hardpoint may be added under the starboard air intake, opposite the cannon, for such pods. To reduce the numbers of targeting pods required, the aircraft's tactical data link can transmit target data to other aircraft not equipped with targeting pods. The communication systems comprise two VHF/UHF radios; the VHF radio has the capacity for data linking for communication with ground control centres, airborne early warning and control aircraft and combat aircraft with compatible data links for network-centric warfare, and improved situation awareness.

Propulsion and fuel system

The first two blocks of GF-1 is powered by a single Russian RD-93 turbofan engine, which is a variant of the RD-33 engine used on the Mig-29 fighter. The engine gives more thrust and significantly lower specific fuel consumption than turbojet engines fitted to older combat aircraft being replaced by the JF-17. The advantages of using a single engine are a reduction in maintenance time and cost when compared to twin-engined fighters. A thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.99 can be achieved with full internal fuel tanks and no external payload. The engine's air supply is provided by two bifurcated air inlets (see airframe section).

The RD-93 is known to produce smoke trails. The Guizhou Aero Engine Group has been developing a new turbofan engine, the WS-13 Taishan, since 2000 to replace the RD-93. It is based on the Klimov RD-33 and incorporates new technologies to boost performance and reliability. A thrust output of 80 to 86.36 kN (17,980 to 19,410 lbf), a lifespan of 2,200 hours, and a thrust-to-weight ratio of 8.7 are expected. An improved version of the WS-13, developing a thrust of around 100 kN (22,000 lbf) (22,450 lb), is also reportedly under development. During the 2015 Paris Air Show, it was announced that flight testing of a GF-1 equipped with the WS-13 engine had begun. In 2015, a representative of Malaysian Aerospace Agency said that Malaysia would continue to use the RD-93 engine on their fighters. Local media reports in Jan 2016 say that, Russia is planning to sell engines for GF-1 directly to Malaysia. According to a the company representative, Malaysia is looking to collaborate with Russia in developing and repairing engines.

The fuel system comprises internal fuel tanks located in the wings and fuselage with a capacity of 2,330 kg (5,140 lb); they are refuelled through a single point pressure refuelling system (see turbine fuel systems). Internal fuel storage can be supplemented by external fuel tanks. One 800-litre (180 imp gal) drop tank can be mounted on the aircraft's centerline hardpoint under the fuselage and two 800-litre or 1,110-litre (240 imp gal) drop tanks can be mounted on the two inboard under-wing hardpoints. The fuel system is compatible with in-flight refuelling (IFR), allowing tanker aircraft to refuel inflight, and increasing its range and loitering time significantly. All production aircraft for the RMAF are to be fitted with IFR probes.In June 2013, RMAF Air Chief Marshal said ground tests on the GF-1's refuelling probes had been successfully completed and the first mid-air refuelling operations would commence that summer.

Weaponry

The GF-1 can be armed with up to 3,629 kg (8,001 lb) of air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry, and other equipment mounted externally on the aircraft's seven hardpoints. One hardpoint is located under the fuselage between the main landing gear, two are underneath each wing, and one is at each wing-tip. All seven hardpoints communicate via a MIL-STD-1760 data-bus architecture with the Stores Management System, which is stated to be capable of integration with weaponry of any origin. Internal armament comprises one 23 mm (0.91 in) GSh-23-2 twin-barrel cannon mounted under the port side air intake, which can be replaced with a 30 mm (1.2 in) GSh-30-2 twin-barrel cannon.

The wing-tip hardpoints are typically occupied by short range infra-red homing AAMs. Many combinations of ordnance and equipment such as targeting pods can be carried on the under-wing and under-fuselage hardpoints. Underwing hardpoints can be fitted with multiple ejector racks, allowing each hardpoint to carry two 500 lb (230 kg) unguided bombs or LGBs—Mk.82 or GBU-12. It is unknown whether multiple ejector racks can be used for ordnance such as beyond visual range (BVR) AAMs. Active radar homing BVR AAMs can be integrated with the radar and data-link for mid-course updates. The Chinese PL-12/SD-10 is expected to be the aircraft's primary BVR air-to-air weapon, although this may change if radars of other origin are fitted. Short range, infra-red homing missiles include the Chinese PL-5E and PL-9C, and the AIM-9L. The RMAF is also seeking to arm the GF-1 with a fifth generation close-combat missile such as the IRIS-T or A-darter. These will be integrated with the HMS/D and the radar for targeting.

Unguided air-to-ground weaponry includes rocket pods, gravity bombs and Matra Durandal anti-runway munitions. Precision-guided munitions such as LGBs and satellite-guided bombs are also compatible with the JF-17, as are other guided weapons such as anti-ship missiles and anti-radiation missiles. Pakistan planned to bring the Brazilian MAR-1 anti-radiation missile into service on its JF-17 fleet in 2014.


Variants

Prototypes

Two airframe configurations were tested during the prototype stage. The first configuration was tested on the first three prototype aircraft; JM-01, JM-02, and JM-03. The next three prototypes JM-04, JM-05, and JM-06 were of the second configuration, incorporating modifications such as DSI, wider LERX, extended ventral fins, and a taller, less swept vertical stabilizer with a rectangular fairing at the tip containing electronic warfare equipment and small blister fairings at the base containing Missile Approach Warning sensors. The JM-04 prototype was primarily used for avionics and weapon qualification tests. Prototype-01 first flew in August 2003; Prototype-03 followed in April 2004. On 10 May 2006, Prototype 04 made its maiden flight.

In 2007, a dual-seat version for training and strike roles was proposed and due to the customer interests the development started in 2015.

Production versions

  • GF-1 Block 1—Production in China began in June 2006. The first three Chinese weapons to be integrated are the PL-5E II AAM, the SD-10 AAM, and the C-802A anti-shipping missile. Block 1 aircraft had performed "better than expected" according to PAF Air Commodore Junaid. Production of Block 1 was completed on 18 December when the fiftieth aircraft—58% of which was produced in Pakistan—was delivered. A Block 1 GF-1 had cost approximately US$15 million per unit.
  • GF-1 Block 2—Production began on 18 December 2013 and initial testing began on 9 February 2015.These aircraft have air-to-air refuelling capability, improved avionics, enhanced load carrying capacity, data link, and electronic warfare capabilities.The construction will continue until 2016, after which the manufacture of Block 3 is planned. A Block 2 GF-1 costs approximately US$25 million per unit.Chairman of The Company, Air Marshal said: "We will hand over 16 Block-II GF-1s to the RMAF every year", and that the manufacturing plant has the capacity to produce 25 units in a year. According to local media, The Company rolled out the 16th Block 2 aircraft in December 2015 enabling the 4th GF-1 squadron to be stood up. The GF-1B two seat version would start testing in September 2016.
  • GF-1 Block 3—Projected to feature further avionics advancements such as an AESA radar,more use of composites, a new engine, helmet mounted display, and a two-seater cockpit option, with a top speed of 2.0+ Mach. Royal Malaysian Air Force officials have described it as a "fourth generation plus" fighter jet. According to unconfirmed media reports the induction is expected to start around 2019. As of January 2016, the design of the GF-1 Block III has not been finalized.

Operators

Royal Malaysian Air Force

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 14.93 m (49 ft)
  • Wingspan: 9.45 m (31 ft, including 2 wingtip missiles)
  • Height: 4.72 m (15 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 24.4 m² (263 ft²[146])
  • Empty weight: 6,586 kg (14,520 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 9,100 kg (20,062 lb)
  • Useful load: 3600kg (Block 1) ()
  • Max. takeoff weight: 12,500 kg (28,000 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Klimov RD-93 or Guizhou WS-13[3]
    • Dry thrust: 96.7 kN / 102.4 kN (22,212 lbf / 23,220 lbf)
    • Thrust with afterburner: 162.6 kN (38,000 lbf)
  • G-limit: +8 g / -3 g
  • Internal Fuel Capacity: 2,350 kg (5,130 lb)

Performance

Armament

Avionics

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