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Pakistan and China commence Shaheen VI joint air-exercise
September 20, 2017
Photo source: Xinhua

Pakistan and China commence Shaheen VI joint air-exercise

On September 7, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) began their bilateral air exercise – Shaheen VI –  China. The annually-held exercise, which will conclude on September 27, involves as many as 19 PAF fighter and support aircraft.

Pakistan’s state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reports that the PLAAF contingent for Shaheen VI includes the Shenyang J-11 (i.e. license-built Chinese Su-27 Flanker), Xian JH-7/JH-7A strike aircraft, and KJ-200 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. A PLAAF spokesperson told APP that Chinese ground forces and air defence units are also participating. Photos of the exercise, published by Xinhua, show that the Shenyang J-8II interceptor is also participating with the PLAAF.

The PAF appears to be participating with the JF-17 Thunder, which is jointly produced by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), CAIG F-7P and the Karakoram Eagle ZDK03-based AEW&C.

Pakistan and China rotate the responsibility of hosting the Shaheen exercise, with Shaheen V being held in Pakistan in 2016. That year, the PAF also participated in Anatolian Eagle and Red Flag in Turkey and the U.S., respectively. The PAF also conducted its force-wide exercise, Tempest II, in 2016.

Besides benchmarking operational practices and performance with partnering air forces, exercises of this nature also enable the PAF to engage in dissimilar air combat training (DACT). Of particular interest would be the Shenyang J-11, which is a Flanker variant like the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Su-30MKI.

During Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s visit to the PAF’s No. 9 Squadron (“Griffins”), the PAF had announced (via APP) a multi-national exercise in October. This will be Pakistan’s largest air exercise and it will involve personnel from 19 air forces. In addition, the PAF’s Airpower Centre of Excellence (ACE) will be hosting bilateral and multilateral training exercises on a regular basis.

  • Jack

    Please buy 4 squadrons – 50 J16/J11 fighter jets.

    And bring the total number of Jf 17 thunder to 300 by 2025

    • Steve

      Need cash and PAF agreement as they are stuck on the F-16 still. JF-17 numbers may be possible.

    • You are right PAF should consider these heavy fighters with formidable payload and range as a mid term solution to bridge the ever widening gap between RIVAL IAF and pakistan with as long as jf17 blkiii is not ready and inducted also local indigenous 5th generation fighter will need almost ten years to ready for induction so its very important to go ahead for available such fighter jets.

  • Steve

    Any news about Su-30MKK participation. That would be an equivalent fighter to the one we will be facing. Maybe the Chinese are sensitive to our neighbours since the deal of Doklam that resulted in the statement at BRICS. That’s why Su-30MKK will not be participating. Difficult to know…Pakistan needs to stand tall and get its political house in order. The nation is confused.

    • bill

      J11 is improved copy of Su30, so PAF has got much better experience and may have already developed strategies to couner Su30. The stress should be to counter coming Rafael fighter. May be PAF should change it’s reactive strategy to proactive i.e should go for agreement regarding purchase of Fc31 with required modifications now so it may be available by 2021-22 along with JF17 block 3.

      • Lasit

        J11 is copy of the original Su 27.. improved copy? Not sure

      • Steve

        Not sure how advanced J-11 is. Have the received SU-35 yet? That would be good for DACT. We need to ask Sisi to have exercises against Rafale, but I don’t think the Egyptians have properly inducted yet with tactics and training.

  • mazhar

    Hello Bilal, can you please explain if there are any Russian restriction on China to restrict them from selling J11/D or J15 to any other country? As I heard , Chinese are fitting AESA on J11Ds and it can become as deadly as SU 35. Since Chinese are flying J11s with WS-10 engines, I don’t think WS-10 has thrust vectoring? I think there are restriction on China regarding J11, otherwise Pakistan could have been looking towards it for long range maritime role? Please correct me if I am wrong.

    • Not aware of formal restrictions (outside what was laid with the J-11/Su-27 ToT), but it’s not a line China has been willing to cross. The Shenyang Flankers aren’t on AVIC’s catalogue of exports, so any transfer to a third party would need to be exceptional and with some kind of Russian approval or agreement.

      • mazhar

        Thanks Bilal, that’s what I thought other wise I don’t see any other reason why Chinese not to offer these planes to PAF as we are looking for a long ranger like SU35 for striking deep inside enemy territory and to secure our SLOC more effectively.

      • Lasit

        agree with you,most probably there are some Secret agreements between Russians and Chinese for royalty payment for the copies. there were news of Russia threatening to sue China on IPR issues, but that die down after the payment.

        anyway electro-optic system, HMS and ECM pods are still of Russian origin. WS10A is till not matured and years behind getting FOC for export if any. I don’t think PAF wants a aircraft with an engine requiring overhaul every 50+ Hours.

  • Afzal

    I keep on reading about india -Pak rivalry…..would want to highlights few points and hope with objectivity….1) from a pure military point of view on 1-1 comparison….Pak Military would never be able to stand with india in the current context and in future…in all the the 3 arms India would be at least twice more strong than Pak….we can say all about military experience and all that…but that would only be to provide self satisfaction…..2) for whatever reason (geo political, economy) India is getting the technology and also developing inhouse expertise for different armaments…imagine say 10 yrs down the line….a) either F16 or Gripen would be getting manufactured in India…people should think about the ecosystem that would be created for next gen fighter alongwith the eco system of LCA…2) SSN (indigenious) would have been launched…3) either soruyo/DCNS conventional subamarines would be getting manufactured in India and by that eco system would have been created for next gen sybamrines…while as far a Pakistan is concerned…it would still depend on foreign OEM for its armamments without much of an ecosystem being created…until and unless…pakistan starts serious investment in R&D, strategize for TOT(cutting edge) or JV in Pakistan…after 10 yrs if the current differential continue and grwoing….Pakistan might not be able to catch India even in dreams….currently itself India defense budget is equal to Pakistan whole budget…lets think of the differential in 10 yrs…Another option for pakistan could be investing with all dedication and sole focus on drones, Artificial intelligence and cyber warfare….primarily because low entry barriers and have the ability for transformational change and affects.!!

  • Shafiq Ahmed

    PAF should not look for any 4 or 4.5th gen Fighter.It should go for an affordable 5thGen Fighter

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