ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has acquired a full squadron of 25 multirole J-10C fighter jets produced by the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) of China, reports citing sources familiar with the development said.
The squadron of highly reliable fighter aircraft will attend the annual Pakistan Day military parade on March 23, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said Wednesday.
The J-10C aircraft were part of the China-Pakistan joint exercise last year, where experts from Pakistan had the opportunity to have a close look at the fighter jets.
The drill started on December 7 in Pakistan and lasted for about 20 days, with China sending warplanes including J-10C, J-11B jets, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft, while Pakistan participated with the JF-17 and Mirage-III fighter jets.
Also known as Vigorous Dragon in China, the model — a variant of J-10 fighter — is a single-engine, multirole jet capable of all-weather operation, configured with a delta wing and canard design, with fly-by-wire flight controls.
Many aspects of the jet, including the size, aerodynamic characteristics, aviation and weapon systems and overall combat capability, are comparable to the France-made Rafale, Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times.
Ever since the early 1990s, China has been working to slim and upgrade its military into a modern fighting force. That means developing fighters for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, and also planes that others would want.
“Yes, we have been given the option of getting this aircraft, and we are studying this option,” said Salman Ahsan Bokhari, then Beijing-based air attache from Pakistan, in 2010.
“Until this time, we haven’t seen it physically flying […] It’s a good time for all the world’s air force to know the PLA has a valuable and important aircraft flying in the skies.”
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) possesses a fleet of US-made F-16s, which is considered a good match for Rafale — 11 of which India has so far received from France under a 2016 deal to procure 36 — but Islamabad was looking for a new multi-role all-weather jet to further augment the air defence.
Federal Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid told reporters in Rawalpindi on Wednesday that a squadron of 25 Chinese-made jets would do a flyover on March 23. According to him, the Chinese fighter jets are “an answer to India’s Rafale jets.”
During their talk, however, the minister mispronounced the names of the planes, referring to them as “Chinese JS-10.” The minister said that a full squadron of 25 all-weather aircraft comprising J-10C will attend the Pakistan Day ceremony on March 23 next year. Apparently, China has come to the rescue of its closest ally by providing J-10C, one of its highly reliable fighter jets.
“VIP guests are coming (to attend 23rd March ceremony) for the first time in Pakistan, the fly-past ceremony of JS-10 (J-10C) is being held…Pakistan Air Force is going to perform the fly-past of China’s JS-10 (J-10C) aircraft in response to Rafale,” Ahmed said.
The J-10C aircraft were part of the Pak-China joint exercise last year, where experts from Pakistan had the opportunity to have a close look at the fighter jets.
The joint exercises started on December 7 in Pakistan and lasted about 20 days, with China sending warplanes including J-10C, J-11B jets, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft, while Pakistan participated with the JF-17 and Mirage III fighter jets.
Pakistan had a fleet of US-made F-16s, which is considered a good match for Rafale, but it was looking for a new multirole all-weather jet to augment its defence after India purchased Rafale jets from France.
Nearly five years ago, India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale jets under a ₹59,000-crore deal to boost the Indian Air Force’s combat capabilities.