Pak to Purchase 14 Chinese Jets, 114 More Likely in Future

Pakistan is going to purchase 36 J-10 fighter aircraft from China in a major move to boost its air warfare capability and with this USD 1.4 billion deal, options are open for induction of more identical aircraft.

According to a Pakistani official, under a preliminary deal China will supply the 36 J-10 fighter jets, sufficient to equip two squadrons, and it could lead to “more sales”. The J-10 or Jian 10 is China’s most advanced combat aircraft and is the third generation fighter comparable to American F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The official said that Pakistan might buy “larger numbers” of the multi-role aircraft in the future but has not signed any deal to purchase as many as 150 jets.

It should be noted that recently, air force chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman said that Islamabad and Beijing are collaborating to build an advanced fighter — JF-17 or “Thunder” and the first of these aircraft are expected to roll out by the end of this month.

One of the main arms suppliers of Pakistan, China has sold combat jets to it for over three decades. However, it has rarely supplied Pakistan with advanced fighter aircraft like the J-10. Pakistan bought Mirage jets from France in the 1970s and F-16s from the US in the 1980s.

Defence experts said that Pakistan has a fleet of 45 F-16s that have been used to some degree in anti militancy operations in Swat and South Waziristan.

Lately, the US agreed to sell Pakistan another 18 new F-16s. Besides, officials expect the Americans to supply about a dozen used aircraft. As per the Pakistan Air Force plans, it has to acquire at least 250 JF-17s over the next four to five years, which would become its future mainstay.

Defence experts have described Pakistan’s agreement with China to buy the J-10 jets as a “landmark event” in the defence relationship between the two countries.

“This agreement should not simply be seen in the narrow context of Pakistan’s relations with China,” said Abdul Qayyum, a retired Pakistani general.

“There is a wider dimension. By sharing its advanced technology with Pakistan, China is… also saying to the world that its defence capability is growing rapidly,” he said.

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