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Pakistan is hoping to replace 190 fighters by 2020
October 18, 2017

Pakistan is hoping to replace 190 fighters by 2020

15 March 2016

By Bilal Khan

According to Dawn News, an English language news outlet in Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is planning to replace as many as 190 of its legacy fighters by 2020.

Following up with senior Pakistani officials about the PAF’s reported interest in acquiring 10 F-16C/D Block-52s (in addition to the eight recently approved by U.S. Congress), Dawn had learned that the PAF slotted 190 of its aged Chengdu F-7 and Dassault Mirage III/5 fighter aircraft for retirement by 2020.

The official who spoke to Dawn News informed it that in addition to new F-16s, the PAF was also studying alternative fighter options from France and Russia, though the official recognized that any French option would be “very expensive.” On the other hand, Russian aircraft were cheaper, but “equally good.”

Notes & Analysis

While it was understood that the PAF was aiming to replace a substantial number of its old fighter aircraft by 2020, this is the first time a specific figure (of outgoing planes) was given.

Previous articles on Quwa identified that the PAF would center its fighter modernization plans on the JF-17 and F-16. Although 190 aircraft constitute a significant proportion of the PAF’s fighter fleet, it is important to note that the PAF’s replacement program will not be done on a 1:1 basis.

The advanced multi-role capabilities of the F-16 and JF-17 enable them to take on the mission roles of a higher number of older generation aircraft. Not only that, but in some respects – such as beyond-visual-range air-to-air warfare and precision-strike – they offer markedly superior performance.

It is possible that moving forward that Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) will increase the production-rate of the JF-17, which presently sits at 16 aircraft per year. The PAF is also pursuing additional new-built F-16C/D Block-52s, with a current plan for eight new aircraft (with an intention to acquire 10 more).

While additional new and used F-16s may be on the drawing board, the Pakistani official’s statement about French and Russian fighters being considered is interesting. A few months ago IHS Jane’s reported that the PAF was in talks with Russia for the purchase of Su-35s, but no additional details were given.

The French angle is less clear. It could be in reference to the Dassault Rafale, mothballed Mirage 2000s, or nothing at all. Though the apparent stall in Dassault’s efforts to finalize a Rafale sale to India could lend some hope to a renewal in ties between the PAF and the French aerospace vendor.

Ultimately, the PAF may be best served by fully focusing its attentions towards bringing the JF-17 Block-III to fruition. By concentrating its limited funding capacity, the PAF could potentially equip the JF-17 Block-III in a manner that brings it closer to contemporary fighters, such as the JAS-39 Gripen. For example, the PAF could perhaps consider a radar and avionics suite from Finmeccanica (formerly Selex ES) modelled on the subsystems being offered with the JAS-39E/F Gripen.

  • AhmAd IbrAhim

    If you are doing 1:1 replacement then you have to do three things.
    1: Increase production of Jf17 to 25 aircrafts/year. By 2020 you will have 125 more of them
    2: After getting 18 Blk52s, get 18 more surplus F16s.
    3: Buy two squadron of XYZ heavy from Russia or France for Maritime and deep strike capability.
    You will achieve your target. PAF should demand a “boom” package in defense spending for coming half decade………

  • SP

    Pakistan needs 80 high end aircraft which would need to be purchased from either China or Russia.

    The rest of the requirements can be met by block 3 or block 4. Current production is 16 but it is slated to be increased to 20 and can be further increased to 25. PAF does not need further F16s.

  • Ashi Sidhu

    It will be really interesting to know about Russian fighter sale to Pakistan.
    I doubt Pakistan can pull off such a thing it would be a real blow to India Russia relations

    • jigsaww

      Pakistan will pull off either Russian or a european (rafale or EF2000) fighter jet. India is neither buying russian jets nor french (as far as eyes can see) because of political and financial reasons. That gives pakistan big opportunity to avail either of the two options, though personally i believe pakistan will go for russian SU-35, and the outcome will be same as 8 F-16s, a lot of stomach ache but ultimately business as usual. this is in addition to J-31.

      Pakistan will use F-16s, JF-17s, J-31, and either SU-35 or EF2000 or Rafale by 2020.

      • Ashi Sidhu

        i will advise u to be realistic

        • jigsaww

          Kindly elaborate what you mean by realism? If it means ignoring india’s acquisitions then its completely unrealistic, not realisitc. If you mean india will threaten Russia over sales to pakistan, then its only a matter of time when things change, since india itself is giving up on russian jets. Sooner or later, Russia will sell.

          I am realistic enough to say this. The key to understanding this realism is that anytime india disbalances the military equation in the subcontinent so as to threaten Pakistani military’s assessments, there will be military acquisitions carried out that will aim at restoring the imbalance. That does not mean that Pakistan will surely buy a said platform, it simply means that certain factors of imbalance will not go unnoticed, such as you cannot expect that with india acquiring a dedicated nuke sub, pakistan will simply sleep over it.

          3 of the 4 jets i mentioned are already being inducted or on cards. The acquisition of SU-35 will depend on if India goes on with Rafale or not, or if PAF simply assesses the need for it even without Rafale. If SU-35 are not available, some western platform will be sought. If that is not available, a chinese platform will be acquired.

          Is that realistic enough for you?

          • Ashi Sidhu

            your economy is in doldrums and china and Russia don’t provide subsidies so u must focus on raising new forces for protecting CPEC and also buying new frigates and submarines from china.where will u get the money from?
            be realistic

          • jigsaww

            You are certainly not the one to worry about where or how Pakistan will get the money. Focus on how Rafale deal will be funded since as of now there are no funds available for that in indian defence ministry or replacing the 500 other flying coffins india has.

          • @bla bla

            @ Ashi Sidhu
            You should be thank to Pakistan the fourth largest remittance that India has received in the last three year of 14.36 billion dollar was from Pakistan . We really care about the world largest poverty . Imagine if we stop sending you the same amount of money for the next few year our Air force will become two times of what you just imagine all European and Russian toys are our 😀 . Now shut your mouth & come out of illusion that we are poor and we dont have money…

          • MT

            *Those remittance claims are spurious.–Google and you will find the truth behind it

          • jigsaww

            that’s because that’s the money looted from corruption and tax evasion by corrupt pakistani politicians.
            the fact remains, indians are living off of doles from pakistan.

          • MT

            Beggars are not choosers– Pakistan 10% yearly budget is financed by western countries primarily from US!
            Pak wants free F16 & continue to be taliban ally!

            Who are those billionaires in Pakistan donating bill$ to India??

            Business of onion, potato,tomato are not dole, Mr Economist

          • jigsaww

            Taliban were never a threat to Pakistan. These rag tag RAW assets never posed a threat to Pakistan, only Pakistan was not serious.
            F-16s are to bomb the hell out of indians when the time comes. Get this in your head once and for all.
            There are no billionaires. There are just corrupt politicians, and flight of capital from Pakistan in cash to Dubai, India, Europe and more.
            YOU are living on Pakistani looted money.
            Talking of surgeries, how many organs have you sold from within yourself and you body to earn a livelihood?

          • MT

            Moron– Why would Pak politicians send money to an enemy state-
            They may have used Indian route to transfer money to west, then how are those money of any help to India!

            I dont expect much sense from madrassa educated people who cant differentiate between tax heaven Dubai,Europe & India.

            The former countries are places where your corrupt army gernails, Politicians and bureaucrats settle down after retirement!

            We all know that Taliban is asset of Pakistan–Treacherous Pakistan extorted 35 bill$ from US & continued to help the terrorists!

            Dont jump too much on free F-16 procured from american aid money!
            During war, their spares will be blocked!

            Bakistan dont have basic health care facilities– So Bakis come to enemy state for medical surgeries and treatment at subsidized prices ;chanting Aman ki asha!

          • nob

            Taliban are the pure mujahid who are fighting against the foreign occupation of their country/ when i say taliban i mean Taliban(the students) and not the american/indian version of taliban who are bombing mosque

          • MT

            Those who kill afgani are good pious taliban while others who attack pak are terrorist

          • Ahmad Shah Durrani

            Pakistan supported Taliban on false conclusions and they pose threat to Pakistan. Turkey is now following Pakistan footsteps by supporting ISIS in Syria. These rogue militants are serious threat to both Pakistan and Turkey. It seem that some Pakistanis are still not facing reality.

          • jigsaww

            I take it as that you have limited and superficial understanding of the complicated COIN strategy that has played out in the world generally post 911 and especially in the region. Turkey is altogether a different story.
            It sure seems some Pakistanis (and people in general) are still confused and grappling with making sense of it all. Pseudo analysis are a usual symptom.

          • Ahmad Shah Durrani

            The rogue elements in Pakistan army and government who are orchestrating Pakistan’s policy towards Talibans and Afghanistan have limited grasp of history and the reasons for Pakistan Movement. Turkish army atleast fought gained independence for Turkish Republic after World War I. Pakistan gained independence through democratic means and Pakistan Army must not dictate its failed strategy.

          • jigsaww

            Pakistan army has every right, just like any other country’s military or intel agency, to dictate every policy that affects Pakistan directly or indirectly, foremost of which is to eliminate enemies of Pakistan within and outside Pakistan. This is especially true when people are confused and the civilian government is largely corrupt and working against Pakistani interests.That is exactly what is being done now and the results are speaking for themself. It does not matter what anti-Pakistan elements say now, they have always been there. You, do not matter. Your comments do not matter. Your confusion does not matter. The policy is being driven directly by the military now to eliminate anti pakistan elements at every level.

          • Ahmad Shah Durrani

            Only the rogue elements of Pakistan Army are confused. ISI opened the door to Taliban in Pakistan and now there are bomb blasts in Pakistani cities. Some of the Taliban trianed by Pakistan have gone rogue and now take foriegn money to bomb and kill Pakistanis. Whole Pakistani economy has been growing slowly due to terrorism in the country. Pakistan Army should concentrate on Pakistan not on Afghanistan.

          • jigsaww

            No Pakistan army will concentrate on everything that directly or indirectly affects Pakistan. There is terrorism flowing from Afghanistan at support of CIA and RAW into Pakistan. Pakistan army has every right to tackle this.

            By the way, what are your credentials to be speaking all this? Who are you? I can see you’ve taken your education from media. This garbage has been thrown into media too many times for confused minded people to not get educated from it, so whatever. But who are you anyway?

          • Vap

            Whatever you are smoking, its making you super delirious. Pakistani patients pay for their own medical expenses in India and number of surgeries are below 1000 per year so far.

          • Ahmad Shah Durrani

            Those “remittance” are actually payments for Indian good imported by Pakistan through third countries especially UAE.

      • MT

        Rafale & Typoon is outside limit of Pakistan– India cant afford 300-400 mill$ Rafale– Without doles, Pak cant buy F16!

        So your option are limited to Russia,Chinese and American Aided F16

      • Rafale and Typhoon are a no-go for PAF. For the price of 5 Rafales I think the PAF could deck out 50 Block-IIIs with the same radar and avionics as the Gripen NG (Finmeccanica Raven ES, BriteCloud, Skyward, etc)

        • jigsaww

          Perhaps not immediately but the need will arise itself based on circumstances. True there are financial and political reasons but If India does go ahead with Rafale and upgrading SU-30s MKI, mirages, and adds Mig-35 or F-16/F-18 under make in india, PAF will balance that even if that demands adding two EF2000 or SU-35 squadrons.

          Likewise, if S400 is acquired, HQ9 or an upgraded system will be acquired for sure.

          PAF will not allow capability gap to widen large enough. That is always the key.

          JF-17 program will venture on separately as backbone of the PAF.

  • Guest

    The numbers don’t make sense to me, I mean as far as I know Pak has already manufactured around 60 JF17s, in the next four years it will easily manufacture at least 60 more that makes a total of 120 JF17s, then there are around 18 to 36 additional F16s planed, if it wants to replace 190 jets by 2020 then these JF17s and F16s are well enough for just to keep the numbers same. Where do these French and Russian jets come in? specially when you say PAF does not need to replace jets on a 1:1 basis.

    • SP

      Majority of PAF fleet consists of aircrafts built in the 60s, 70s and 80s. The only except are the 18 block 52 F-16 and JF-17 which are new and have much life in them. The rest will need to be replaced within the next 10 years which is about 80% of PAF fleet. JF-17 production will not only cater to PAF needs but also export orders. Even with the induction of JF-17 PAF would still need about about 80 high end fighters. PAF kept its obsolete fleet flying with upgrades but now its needs to retire 80% of its fleet in the a decade.

      I think the aircraft numbers will be maintained on a 1 to 1 basis as it is due to this reason PAF kept operating obsolete plans in the past.

  • jigsaww

    I believe the actual number is even higher when you consider this by 2025. The report is for only by 2020. By 2025, the number will be even higher, especially when India is acquiring more jets or will produce under technology transfer. A fair assessment would be that by 2025, PAF will need to replace around 250-300 of its jets, including all of its 3rd/4th gen F-7s and Mirages. Large chunk of this goes to F-7s/mirages being replaced by JF-17 block 1/2/3. There’s around 180 F-7s in service and around 150 mirages. PAF may end up producing 250-300 JF-17s, in addition to keeping F-16s around 100, and acquiring around 50 J-31s. That will give it a force of 250+100+50. This is where you can clearly see a room for 36-50 of another platform, which could be anything from EF2000/Rafales/Su-35s.

    • Abdul Rashid

      If I remember right, retd. Air Marshal Shahid Latif recently said on a Pakistani TV channel PAF was aiming for a modern fighter force of 300 to 350. I do not know what timeframe he was referring to or how well informed his assessment is but these numbers look a liitle on the low side for the task at hand (to keep the “rabid dog” muzzled and in it’s kennel). If true then PAF needs to ensure the force is made up largely of JF-17 Blk 3 and F-16, crammed with all the goodies onboard.

      • jigsaww

        I think the reference was to maintaining an overall number at any time to be able to successfully take on indian aggression. PAF is going thru a modernisation and transition phase from 3rd to 4++ gen fighters while contemplating introduction of 5th gen platform. It’s safe to say that by 2020 (ideally), there should be no 3rd gen fighter existing in PAF. That plan however seems to be delayed by 3-5 years because PAF will need to produce around 250 JF-17s and upgrade block 1 and 2 as well.
        If India does drop Rafale out of lack of finances (and all signs point to that), then it will make up for the numbers by making F-16 or F-18 locally in 4.5th gen capability. If that happens, PAF should expect no better F-16s than block 52+ or a total halt of F-16s program with restrictions on spare parts as well, depending on how US-pakistan relation play out. That risk will always be there, in which case again, JF-17 block 3 and 4 seem to better poised on becoming front-end fighters for PAF, unless PAF can secure some EF2000 or SU-35 by 2020. There surely is a financial problem at hand, but at some point, deficiency of a EF2000 type fighter will be felt.

        • John Rue

          Money is no problem for India. They may even go out buying aircraft manufacturing companies.

          • jigsaww

            yeah keep babbling that crap.
            go on and buy rafale.
            Breaking news. THERE IS NO MONEY.

          • Smoking a Tejas

            Buying a company and running it successfully are too different things. Just ask Tata Steel in the UK.

    • zach amin

      Indians are looking for toilets at this moment 🙂

  • Raja Waqas

    Personally i believe PAF should go for a Chinese stealth fighters and also indulge its PAC in that project .Self reliance should remain the priority of the PAF in order to avoid the dark ages as PAF experienced in 90’s ….

    • Ahmad Shah Durrani

      The stealth fighters are still not mature to be bought and inducted by
      Pakistan Air Force. Best option is to buy 4++ fighters and induct JF-17
      Block III to replace our obsolete fleet. The stealth fighters could be
      inducted around 2025 when they have solved their technical problems.

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