The Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s Chief of Air Staff – Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman – attended the opening ceremony of the Zhuhai Air Show at the beginning of the month.
As per the Associated Press of Pakistan, ACM Sohail Aman also met with his counterpart in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), General Ma Xiaotian.
ACM Aman and Gen. Xiaotian agreed to enhance cooperation in “training and capability enhancement.”
Notes & Comments:
China is Pakistan’s leading arms supplier, and in the case of the PAF, China is depended upon to supply the JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter, ZDK03 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, armed drones, and a range of munitions and subsystems.
With Nanjing Research of Electronics Technology (NRIET) unveiling a new active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar for use on the JF-17, China has firmly cemented itself as not only the leading supplier of arms to Pakistan in terms of volume but also a source (if not the leading source) for qualitative drivers.
A ‘qualitative driver’ could be viewed as a subsystem or complete solution that imbues the PAF with new air warfare capabilities. Since its formation in 1947, the U.S. was the PAF’s main source for cutting-edge technology. This has been the case until the completion of the F-16C/D Block-52+ program, under which the PAF procured 18 new-built fighters. For the next decade, it is China and Western Europe that appear to be the PAF’s leading avenues for next-generation subsystems.
While supplies are important, it would be inaccurate to cast PAF-PLAAF ties in only that light. With the PLAAF reportedly seeking to pivot to a new – more mainstream – doctrine of aircrew training, the PAF should naturally emerge as the PLAAF’s leading source for insight and exposure. In contrast to the PLAAF, the PAF regularly participates in overseas training programs involving NATO powers, such as Turkey, Italy, and the U.S., and it frequently engages with other air forces for training and capacity building programs.