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Pakistan’s Defence Minister looks to Russia and China for new arms
February 22, 2018
Brazilian Air Force Mi-35 attack helicopter. Photo credit: Russian Helicopters

Pakistan’s Defence Minister looks to Russia and China for new arms

In an interview with the Financial Times, Pakistan’s defence minister Khurram Dastgir Khan outlined that Pakistan is engaging with China, Russia and Europe for the supply of new armaments amid turbulence in Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.

“We have already bought some Russian helicopters in the past three years,” said Khan. “This is what we call a regional recalibration of Pakistan’s foreign and security policy.”

Financial Times had asked Khan about Pakistan’s purported interest in the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E, asking if Pakistan has that fighter as an option. Khan stated, “not yet”, adding: “We have opened a dialogue with Russia, which traditionally we never had, because we were firmly in the western camp.”

Khan also claimed that the U.S. was not supplying spare parts for the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) F-16 fleet, stating that “ingenuity” and “other sources” were being used to keep the fleet flying.

Notes & Comments:

Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan’s messaging – i.e. of engaging Russia and China in lieu of the U.S. for the supply of new arms – echoes earlier statements from Pakistani officials, namely the Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (2017), and then foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz (2016). Despite the messaging, concrete progress in terms of procuring big-ticket Russian items is not apparent.

To be fair, the PAF’s current Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman did identify the Russians as a prospective source for new fighter aircraft, telling Bol Narratives in April 2017: “We have both Chinese and Russian options.” However, such a prospect is beset with major challenges, among them the fact that India – while shifting the balance of its arms procurement to the U.S. and Europe – is still Russia’s leading arms importer. From a commercial standpoint, India still wields leverage.

Granted, there are areas where Russia’s support is indispensable, such as relatively affordable but highly capable long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems as well as supporting the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Su-30MKI fleet and the Akula-class nuclear attack submarine (SSN) in the Indian Navy. However, the need is evident on both ends, with Russian suppliers such as Kamov and Mikoyan strongly interested in securing new sales in India. Kamov currently has a 200-helicopter deal (i.e. Ka-226T) on table with India.

Although Russia might not be averse to selling arms to Pakistan, the latter’s fiscal strength would need to increase to offset India’s pressure. With Pakistan generally requiring lines-of-credit or loans to back big-ticket arms purchases, that ability to compensate the vendor is limited. This challenge is not confined to Russia, but France, the U.K. and Germany as well, leaving Pakistan with few viable suppliers.

Regarding Khan’s statements about the supply channel of the PAF’s F-16s, it is unclear if this is correct. As late as January 22, Pakistan registered an import of parts from Pratt & Whitney, i.e. the engine supplier of the PAF’s F-16s. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has an engine overhaul facility for the PW F100. Like Abbasi and Aziz before, it appears that Khan’s statements are politically driven more so than reflective of a PAF procurement plan. The latter is currently focused on the JF-17 Block-III and the forthcoming fifth-generation fighter program being pursued under Project Azm.

  • Faisal

    Ministers in Pakistan dont know much about the core business run by their ministries and their day to day things are run by bureaucrats and retired Subject Matter Experts(SMEs). He means nothing. 6 months down the road there will be a new guy. If US had imposed spare parts embargo on Pakistan ,it would have been a big news. Having said that its a wake up call for PAF , who all the way till last unsuccessful attempt wanted to buy american. US had to slam the door hard and lock it tight , to make PAF consider other options .. something PAF should have done years or decades ago. JF-17 Block 3 and then its next version should continue to provide a stable fighter base and PAF should try to increase the production capacity. Give opportunity to so many unemployed engineers. Collaborate with China to be partner for J-31. Trust yourself , trust your all weather partners. Although Turkey is good partner but their 5th Gen plane uses all wester equipment. With current situation its not going to fly for PAF.

    • sami shahid

      I agree with what you said but let me say that US has actually sanctioned Pakistan in many ways. It doesn’t even want to upgrade our F-16 air crafts even if we are paying them. You know why ? Because it can’t befriend India for Pakistan.

      • Faisal

        They want to treat major upgrades same as new aircraft purchase. We dont have enough buying power so we can’t really put the pressure back on them. They know we will end up being with China and that too will be slow process. I think US , overall is happy letting us go.
        Yes, 3rd party concern has been a major reason for most of the recent refusals including blocking the purchase from Jordan.

        • sami shahid

          USA’s Lockheed Martin will upgrade F-16’s aircrafts of UAE. They have just recently signed the agreement. Not just UAE & but with 2 more countries as well. So, the lesson is stop waiting for the US approval because it wants a Pakistan which doesn’t have an Air Force while it is ready to produce F-16 & F-18 Air crafts in India. So it is better to buy from China rather being like Palestine and Lebanon.

          • Jigsaw

            In short term Pakistan should buy from China and create collaborative ventures with China and Turkey. In long term, 15-20 years down the line, Pakistan should aim for self sufficiency in fighter jet design and production, as well as other weaponry. There’s no need to blame US i suppose – they just have different priorities now, much like Pakistan, and lack of diplomacy by Pakistan has added fuel to fire. 60% of the blame for deterioration of ties is on Pakistan’s gov policies and lack of diplomacy in last 10 years. 40% is influenced from changing US objectives. It could have been avoided to good extent if the pakistan gov stopped giving stupid kneejerk statements against US and engaged them on policy front. They have deliberately spoiled relations with US and Nawaz/PPP gov was actually mandated to do that. Pakistan can easily expect much worse ties in coming days as Trump administration has given free hand to US commanders in Af to do as they please in Af-Pak region – that includes drone and possible ground ops in coming days. While the only response pakistan has is embracing china further and hoping Russia will also do the same. There basically dumb and dumbers running state policies now.

          • TZK

            I think you are being unfair on Pak for the current relationship with USA. If you want to finish an alliance you ask for the impossible which is what USA is doing in relation to AF and India. USA will move on but Pak has borders with them. AF has never been at peace in its entire history and India while the west tends to gloss over the internal issues and concentrate on Pak India faces similar issues and could easily Balkanise with extremists waiting in the wings. With increasing Chinese investment in Pak, they will have interest in an war between Pak and China. In such a scenario I can see an Indian Schlieffen Plan to neutralise Pak before taking on China.

          • Jigsaw

            My point is the past two govs have done nothing to improve ties with US, infact we’ve seen people like hussain haqqani and more conspiring against pakistan, lobbying against pakistan, constructing memo gate scandals, and overall doing negative lobbying and diplomacy. The PML N gov carried on with not appointing any foreign minister, not engaging the americans on any policy front, not doing anything on its own to lessen the backlash. Remember that chest thumping will never get pakistanis anywhere. Pakistan is blessed with strategic geography, and americans rely on pakistan for its supplies into af, and pakistan may be the most important piece of puzzle, but you are also talking about going head on with a super power. I would never recommend that kind of stupidity. Pakistan US has a relationship decades old. Why has it reached here, is something for both countries to think about, but more importantly pakistan has almost done nothing in past one decade positive about it – diplomatically. All your military gains and achievements have gone down the drain because you could not show it to the world, bring about positivity from it, and leverage positive lobbying. And that is why military and pakistanis have developed negativity towards US and US towards pakistan. You can blame it ALL on US once you tried your best – but you didn’t. Why isn’t hussain haqqani and elements like him recalled or extradited to pakistan. Pakistan itself has given space to such elements while voting such people into power.

            My point is, don’t try to add fuel to fire or open an unnecessary front.

            Also US will never move on from Af. They have objectives there – what Pakistan and pakistanis need to realize is that America is your neighbor now, and there’s need to engage them. If at all it then fails, so be it.

            Now i hate to say this but i’m pretty sure the engagement with US would have been largely different if Musharraf was in power. That man whatever he was, knew how to deal with them without making a mess of it all.

          • TZK

            Military dictatorship kowtowing to USA and you will lose any support from the population which is what you have now and you will import AF problems into Pak more the reason for USA to come in and remove the nukes and make Pak a second Nepal which was much derided on these forums a while back. People will make sacrifices but not if they feel that they have no voice or the natiion is no longer worth saving.

          • Jigsaw

            Never said military is the solution. Civilians are – but the civilians have worked against pak interest in last 10 years and mostly anyway. Military also has from time to time e.g. Musharraf and kayani – but solution will always come from civilian setup. Them kowtowing is because of no leadership in first place.

            The thing is if you are not ready to accept there’s a problem, you’ll never do anything about it except putting up a fight to silent those who can see it. Isn’t that what Pakistani leadership has been doing lately. Don’t paint it as rosy when it’s not. Speak the truth. Nothing else will get us anywhere.

            There’s one who tells me to not criticise your own gov openly because what? It’s shameful to open up their incapability and national fraud? Why don’t you do something about it then – at least a proper diagnosis.

          • TZK

            Almost everyone I know wants change within Pak irrespective of what the USA does. Everyone knows that there is no point in ‘chest thumping’ on minor issues for domestic consumption when you concede on most important ones. In relation to USA they know what the problem is but chose to ignore it.
            https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/29/opinion/is-pakistan-willing-to-lose-america.html

          • sami shahid

            Thank you for replying him

          • Faisal

            I agree with Jigsaw. Pakistan itself is responsible for the current state. They could have accomplished a lot more if they had some form of working Govt in their country. When Govt fails on all fronts then military tries to take over foreign policy and gets blamed for dictating Civilian govt. There is no form of governance in ministries and departments. Everything running on autopilot.

          • Jigsaw

            exactly

          • sami shahid

            Dude, we received flour instead of F-16 aircrafts… do you remember that ? Will do the same with Afghanistan if US troops put their boots on the ground this time. People like you are also responsible for bad relationship with US because you people openly criticise your own government. Use your brain. Afghanistan shelters terrorists and those terrorists turn their back on Kabul while Pakistan shouldn’t be blamed because it is sheltering Afghan refugees while Afghanistan shelters armed anti Pakistan terrorists.

          • Jigsaw

            I shall not sing songs of praise for my gov if it its party leader/ex PMs is a proven corrupt, convicted by court, found in money laundering, conspired in memo gates, responsible for lobbying against Pakistani interests, not gaining on pak military gains, bringing shame and negativity to country because of stupid policies, and doing nothing on international stage in favour of Pakistan. If kids like you have problem digesting that fact based criticism on gov or doing it, then so be it. I did not even touch on Afghanistan and its relationship with Pakistan or etc. So keep your assumptions to yourself.

            When you’re so fond of praising every evil of your gov, this is the kind of mess you end up creating. Do you even have any idea where the country is headed if you don’t do some serious work on policy making for next 30 years. I’ll tell you a secret too. For last few decades you keep pillowing on US, and now you’re going to do that on China. If you had a leadership, you’d be the one doing CPEC instead of pillowing on China to do that. It’s shameful. And i have no shame in diagnosing the problem – as bitter as they may sound. It’s the truth.

    • Kamran Ahmad

      Even our military people are not immune from lack of common sense syndrome. Look at the PAF with its JF-17 programme. For years it argued against a two seater because “it” didn’t need one only to realise years later that other countries to which “it” wanted to export the plane DID need a two seater to obviously evaluate the plane! This folly has cost us several years of slow uptake of this fighter jet, the two seater only now been developed! The same military got its hand bitten not once, not twice, but THREE times with embargos and withheld F-16 but still didn’t think to diversify during these embargos. God help the Pakistani mind!

      • Faisal

        Its called “Path of least resistance” syndrome. When JF-17 program was started it was solely focused on PAF’s needs. At some point in time, PAF should have started license building J-10 and J-11 planes from China. JF-17 , J-10 , J-11 should have help retire F-7 , Mirage 3, Mirage 5 planes. Its not too late. Some change of direction is needed.

        • TZK

          PAF traditionally relied on a single engine USA built plane like F16 for sale to friendly nations. USA stopped making these types in favour of the F35 which is too expensive and even if affordable USA would not give Pak. It was obvious that the F16 production would not continue once F35 was introduced and PAF should have understood that the geopolitical situation would mean no F35 or any updated versions of F16 after 2001 when USA invaded Afghanistan and relations have been going downhill. Alternatives that were ready to field should have been investigated after 2001 and not rely solely on a development program of the JF17.

          • Khalid Riaz

            You have hit the nail on its head. The PAF had limited choices because of financial constraints. That said, the air force did not have a clear strategy of lessening its reliance on a historically unreliable ally.

  • Shershahsuri

    Keeping in view the geo-political scenario in the region and big-ticket procurement, this is necessary for Pakistan raise its procurement budget from 2 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars. Air defence, navy and air force— all need urgent high tech procurement.

  • laldo

    Pak’s J-17 has RD33 Russian engines…MIL’s lets see future defense ties b/w Pakistan & Russia.

    • sami shahid

      China has developed the WS-13

  • Jigsaw

    Regional calibration is a bigger word than his whole portfolio and duties as DM. Probably being spoon fed with what terms, statements to use. Keep in mind that buying SU-35’s will also mean Pakistan’s dependence on GLONASS and NAVSTAR in addition to GPS already. It’s best that Pakistan keeps its strategic assets clear of intel leakages. Army platforms such as gunships, guns etc make more sense than SU-35s and other high end assets. Pakistan should go for a customized J-31 hooked up to domestic and chinese systems. Keep that strategic assets out of risk of intel leakages / crucial dependencies.

  • Serbia77

    Some of your points are controversial admin, even though your analysis is fairly accurate for the most part.

    1.) You said- “Pakistan’s fiscal strength would need to increase to offset India’s pressure”. To me it sounds a bit too ambitious, given the regional arms trade dynamics and Pakistan’s annual GDP growth rate compared to regional rivals like India. On 29th January, 2018 deputy CEO of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport Sergei Goreslavsky said to TASS “The portfolio of orders for arms of Russia and India is over $4 billion dollars as of today”. If i am not wrong then that is nearly 50% of Pakistan’s total defense budget and therefore how effectively Pakistan would be able to offset it in the future remains to be seen.

    Also India, in the coming weeks, will be declaring its defense budget for FY 2018-19. It presently stands at 1.56% of the GDP (compared to over 3% for Pakistan). Now that is far lower than the global average of 2.2%. With increased pressure from opposition and the armed forces, the N. Modi government looks inclined to hike the defense spending for the coming fiscal year. And if more funds indeed become available, the defense cooperation between Russia and India could rise further as was echoed by Dmitry Rogozin recently. Also as the recent data indicate, India’s reliance on Russian arms continues to record an annual increase despite the stiff competition form France, US and Israel.

    Taking all this into account, Pakistan’s ability to effectively offset India’s pressure by fiscal means in the mid-to-long term future is highly questionable. Especially at a time when arms sale by Russia is increasingly used to offset the impact of western sanctions and is aimed at keeping its economy afloat. This means Russia will be looking to expand its arms sale to some brand new markets like Myanmar (6 Su-35), Saudi Arabia (S-400) and other new customers in South America and Africa. And if Russia becomes successful in securing deals with new customers, its willingness to engage Pakistan especially at the cost of perturbing flourishing markets like India is more likely to flounder.

    2.) You wrote- “Regarding Khan’s statements about the supply channel of the PAF’s F-16s, it is unclear if this is correct. As late as January 22, Pakistan registered an import of parts from Pratt & Whitney”. This is debatable. Because as was widely reported, US stopped the aid to Pakistan somewhere in late december to early january. That is when putting a halt on supply of military hardware including spares is likely to have also taken place. Do note that shipping of spare parts from overseas manufacturers, situated half a world away does take time. The decision to supply spares for PW engines could very well have been taken before the recent decision to stop the aid. If in case you are aware of the exact timeline then that would be worth sharing. However, my understanding is that cutting the supply of spares (as told by Dastagir khan) would have a huge impact on PAF’s F-16s mission availability rate in the short to mid term.

    3.) You said-“From a commercial standpoint, India still wields leverage”. That’s true however Russia-India relations are not limited to just defense cooperation of some transactional nature as many people across the forums think them to be. Since I am an avid reader of op-eds from Russian think-tanks such as the Carnegie Moscow Center and Russian International Affairs Council i can affirm to the fact that of late the emerging consensus has been that India is an emerging power with economic and geo-political heft and a future power house of Asia. Antagonising India would not be in Russia’s interest or vice versa especially in regards to China, which both Moscow and New Delhi see as their competitor in the long term. To maintain the balance of power in economy and trade in the wider eurasian region and also enjoy diplomatic support in the asian geo-politics, India’s support will be key as India is not a geo-political competitor of Russia unlike China.

    • Joseph

      According to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures India’s military spending was 2.5% of GDP for year 2016. Was that wrong or India drastically reduced military spending?

      Cutting roughly 40% of military spending is no joke. If it is the case then what are the implications regarding projects like AMCA, FGFA, Kaveri egnine, Arjun Mark II and even Tejas mk2? Are they still funded?

      • Serbia77

        According to IDSA (Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis), one of the most prominent think tanks of India which is directly funded by India’s Ministry of Defense, clearly states “With a share of 1.56 per cent of the estimated GDP of 2017-18, the defence budget is the lowest since 1956-57”. Here is the link:
        https://idsa.in/issuebrief/india-defence-budget-2017-18_lkbehera_030217
        Do note that this article contains in-depth analysis of India’s defense budget and fund sequestration.
        Also for obvious reasons i don’t think wikipedia’s information is entirely accurate or could be used as a citable source. But that’s just my opinion. Infact while presenting papers on international relations, the views of the experts on the “country at discussion” is taken into account rather than wikipedia or any third party source. I can’t speak for others but as far as i am concerned i choose to trust IDSA when studying India because its editorial branch consists of not only India’s former military chiefs but op-eds from high profile government officials from India’s Home ministry and Ministry of Defense.

        • Joseph

          Thanks for the info. It seems in absolute terms Indian military budget is increasing, only reduced as percentage of GDP. That makes more sense.

          • Serbia77

            You are welcome Joseph 🙂

    • Headstrong

      All good points – except, I don’t believe India’s defence budget will be hiked too much. If at all. While the Indian economy has been seeing moderate growth, the pressures of an impending election year (2019, if not earlier) as well as the disruptions caused by the demonetisation drive and the imposition of GST could well see Modi going populist. That would almost certainly see a stagnant defence budget as a % of GDP.

      • Serbia77

        You are right. That’s a realistic possibility and a legitimate concern. But with Modi looking all set to be in power until 2024, that should not be too big of a concern as he will make up for the ‘lost time’ once he gets re-elected. My understanding of India’s domestic politics is limited but i think he is going to be aggressive in implementing his policies once he gets re-elected into prime minister’s office. Moreover, barring the upcoming elections i believe there is a wide consensus in India wanting the the central government to increase the defense budget vis-a-vis China and keeping India’s rapid modernisation drive in mind.

        • Headstrong

          That’s a lot of ‘ifs’…
          IF Modi gets re-elected…
          IF he makes up for ‘lost time’…
          IF he gets ‘aggressive’ in implementing policies…
          IF the defence budget gets hiked…
          Personally, I believe the answer to all of the above is up in the air.

        • Headstrong

          I was right. Defence budget has plunged to 1.58% of GDP for 17-18

    • Kamran Ahmad

      Pakistan has a huge treasure trove of over 50 Billion dollars to spend on the military. It has the cash to buy dozens of ships, submarines, hundreds of fighters and tanks. This money is sitting in Foreign bank accounts and tax evasion schemes by the thieving politicians. All this while our soldiers, airmen and sailors are dying fighting battles with limited equipment. These corrupt murderous politicians should be hunted down and executed en masse.

      • Jigsaw

        It’s more like 100 billion USD but i don’t suppose that money is at Pakistan’s disposal to do anything with. Actually that’s only in Switzerland; other countries not even known where money has been transferred. So unless the money flight is brought into control and stowed monies brought back, Pak will keep struggling to find credits and buy enough weaponry, let alone top of the line weaponry,

  • sami shahid

    Just concentrate on JF-17 block 3 and there is no need of F-16 although we can F.C-31 to replace with F-16. FC-31 would be much better because it is twin engine & stealth so it will give our Air Force an upper hand. We can also buy J-10 from China if not FC-31. As for Russia, we should buy troop transport helicopters from a Russia for eg new MI-17, more MI-35 and the new Ansat produced by Kazan. We have an option of turkey as well and turkey manufacturers awesome weapons of good quality. We should not watch & wait the USA. We can’t trust USA. Even our 9 AH-1z vipers are at risk although we paid for them. We should have bought T-129 from Turkey or MI-28 from Russia. Pakistan must understand that USA wants a Pakistan which doesn’t have an Air Force and this is true !

    • Shaukat Ali
    • Abdul Basit Iqbal

      It’s not only PAF that USA is concerned off. More than the PAF, the global players are wary of how Pakistan is pursuing its submarine programmes, which will be a new player at a strategic level.

      • Kamran Ahmad

        What submarine programme? The North Koreans already tested a SLBM while we are singing and dancing over our limited 2nd best Submarine Launched Cruise Missile system! This system requires us to get right up to the Indians arse in order to try to kick it. Starving PRK got SLBM and we a nuclear power have not!

  • MOHAMMAD HARIS FAHIM

    I asked on the PAF official page on Facebook the same questions about the spares and even showed a little loss of hope with regards to how PAF going to coup up any Pressler amendment scenario. From the other side, the reply was straight forward: Pakistan has enough stock to make sure our F 16s remain operational for half a decade without foreign shipment (that might have include a scenarios in which some birds would be salvaged for parts to make sure our forward squadrons are equiped). This strategy, in my humble opinion, is evident with Project Azm where PAF is anxious to cover up decades of RnD gap in a matter of years starting right from indigenous MALE drone and FGF and a earth sensing satellite. So I think PAF is buying time enough to allow project Azm to fruitation so that our need on F 16s are scrapped away altogether.

    • TZK

      Relying on just one platform as your main strike weapon is always risky. Indonesia has a similar experience to Pak with sanctions over the years and they have diversified as much as logistic allows them.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_Air_Force

    • Jigsaw

      I don’t think PAF Official page would say otherwise even if spares were short. That kind of statement will be heard from highest echelons – if true.

      • MOHAMMAD HARIS FAHIM

        Even if spares are not in reserves, we will have to salvage them.out from other aircrafts. We have seen this in Project Rose for Mirages. What is difficult here is that Paf got enough Mirages then from Australia and other sources to make that salvage scheme work. But today Us has stopped even 3rd party export of F 16s to Pak. If JF 17s’ production is not drastically increased, then with 250 aircrafts to retire in 2018-2019, Paf would be forced anyhow to acquire some birds from any source i.e. China where only plausible item to lay eyes on is FGF J 31. That would be a start of another arms race as IAF would be forced by this to field an FGF from their side. And that would not be PAK-FA but F-35.

        • Joseph

          From all the news I read it seems Lockheed Martin hinted that the only way for India to get F-35 was to acquire large quantity of F-16 first (To stop F-16 production from shutting down).

          Lockheed Martin seems quite keen: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/lockheed-proposes-making-custom-built-fighter-jets-in-india/articleshow/62580903.cms

          But if India is not increasing military budget significantly for that level of capital equipment procurement, then neither seems likely to happen.

          • J.Arandas

            I am afraid your assertions are totally wrong. First of all let me be very clear. India never showed any official interest in the F-35 platform. 1.)F-35 WAS NOT present in india’s MMRCA tender for 126 aircraft. 2.)F-35 is also NOT present in Indian Navy’s recently issued tender for 57 carrier borne fighters. {They include F/A-18, Rafale-M, MiG-29K and the untested carrier version of Saab Gripen-NG}. 3.)And F-35 IS NOT even a competitor in the newly issued IAF’s single engine fighter program. Only two ever showed interest: F-16 B70 and Gripen-NG. I don’t know how US can ever sell F-35s to India when India never officially showed any interest nor ever evaluated the F-35 platform.
            Secondly, its highly unlikely India will ever choose the F-35 because 1.)India under Modi has made it an unwritten official policy that it wants transfer of technology (ToT), atleast some, whenever it inks a multi-billion dollar contract. With the F-35 that is impossible and also the US will not be willing to shift the F-35’s production line to India similar to the F-16 deal. The success of Modi’s flagship project “Make in India” depends on ToT and local production. With the F-35, both those requirements are highly unlikely to be fulfilled by the US.
            2.) India will be forced to sign the CISMOA and BECA agreements to operate such a sophisticated platform like the F-35. Something the Indian government has repeatedly stated over the past 3 years they don’t want to citing ‘sovereignty’ and ‘security’ concerns.
            3.) India’s close ties with Russia. NATO has expressed severe reservations after Turkey (F-35 operator) chose to buy S-400. Plus F-35s if chosen will never be integrated with other russian origin air force assets in the IAF which form a huge chunk of its fleet. A big disadvantage.
            4.) India has already sunk a lot of funds into the PAK-FA project with all weather friend Russia. Russia in principle has agreed to ToT and local production of the Indian version of the Su-57 (aka FGFA). in collaboration with HAL. It would be foolish and a waste of resources to back out of the deal now and go for another 5th gen platform. Infact Dmitry Rogozin just last week said the FGFA negotiation is back on track with India and is expected to be signed in the near future.
            5.) Cost. According to IHS jane’s F-35 CPFH is $32,000 USD while that of the F-16 is just $7000 USD. Operating costs was a big factor why IAF chose to go for single engine fighter jets in which F-35 didn’t even participate.

            Coming to India’s defense budget, i am not sure how aware you are of India’s defense procurement, but the RFI (Request for Information) are not issued for any acquisition program unless the Ministry of Defense earmarks the required funds for it. The MoD had already earmarked sufficient funds for the procurement of single engine fighter jets in the defense budget of FY 2017-18 which led to the issuance of a restricted RFI for Single Engine Fighter Jets in october last year. So your assertion that a fresh hike in defense budget will be required to ink a deal for these single engine fighter jets (F-16/Gripen) is completely false. Moreover, I say restricted because the MoD is reluctant to go for the F-16 after Lockheed Martin representatives showed apprehensions in parting with the key technologies with Indian private industries as India is not a signatory to the US IP laws. As was last reported Lockheed Martin is still in discussions with the MoD trying to convince them of technology transfer aspect and laws related to protection of IP. Saab on the other hand has declared its full willingness to cooperate with indian industries. Moreover many former IAF personnel have favored Saab Gripen-NG over the F-16 B70. The wide consensus in the ex-airforce community is that India should choose Gripen purely on technological parameters.

          • Serbia77

            Woah Joseph! Those were some really rich assumptions you made there in your statement.
            You said “it seems Lockheed Martin hinted that the only way for India to get F-35 was to acquire large quantity of F-16 first.” Please allow me to be as straightforward as possible in my reply. US or Lockheed Martin never offered India the F-35, either directly or indirectly. PERIOD! Let alone making it conditional to the F-16 deal. Infact on 23 January, 2018 the spokesperson of Lockheed Martin, Michael Friedman explicitly clarified after the brouhaha over the alleged F-35 offer to india. He said “F-35 production is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and Final Assembly and Checkout Operations (FACO) facilities are located in Cameri, Italy, and Nagoya, Japan. The article referencing F-35 production in India was misreported and incorrect. The conversation was in regards to F-16 production,” Also a top Indian Ministry of Defence official later clarified to the media on the same day that “there is no such plan, and no official proposal has come from U.S. government and Lockheed Martin” to produce F-35s in India in the future.
            Later Daljit Singh, a retired Indian Air force air marshal and defense analyst said “IAF has a requirement of FGFA and an agreement with Russia is already in place, therefore, India may not show interest in procurement of F-35.”
            Joseph i dont know what prompted you to reach such conclusions but i can assure you that F-16 Block 70 deal and the F-35 offer are in no way related to each other. To milk some more of its old yet legendary fighter and keep its production line running, LM desperately wants to move the F-16 line to India. More than India needing the F-16, it is the other way round. Therefore, this deal to India can never be treated as a gateway to F-35 but a deal to prolong the longevity of the F-16s.
            Also, India already issued a RFI for single engine fighter jets back in October. This means India had already allocated the required funds for that program which enabled the MoD to initiate the formal negotiations of acquiring those jets. Issuing the RFI is a formal process to begin the negotiations. Why would you begin the negotiations anyway when you don’t have enough money? I dont think a new hike would be specifically required for acquiring the F-16 or Saab Gripen as it had already been allocated. But for future modernisation programs like MBT and Submarines a hike might be necessary.

          • Joseph

            The reason I reached such conclusion in the beginning was this: http://idrw.org/what-made-lockheed-stay-out-of-indias-carrier-borne-fighters-tender/ “Lockheed Martin back then had said that F-35 Lightning-II aircraft will be available to India if India selects its F-16 Super Viper in its quest for some supply of 126 fighter jet Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA) tender now scrapped, floated by IAF a decade ago.”

            Also an article by one of the chairmen of Tata (LM and Tata have joint venture in India): http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/08/02/americans-are-back-f-16-for-iaf-and-f-18-for-indian-navy-pub-72706

            He suggested India should select F-16 as a gateway to get F-35:”Because combat aviation is steadily moving towards the dominance of stealthy platforms, India should be seeking to leverage these purchases towards the development or the acquisition of fifth-generation fighters.”. Although ambiguous, but don’t you think that is a hint?

            Also the article in my previous post, in that LM also kept saying there is a lot of commonality between the radar of F-16 and F-35. What do you think that means?

            Request for information is released in Oct 2016 for 300 medium jets: https://thediplomat.com/2016/10/india-kicks-off-new-search-for-mig-21-replacement/ Bear in mind the 36 Rafale costed India 7.8 billion dollars in MRCA tender. How much do you think this would cost? Are you sure it is already funded without a significant budget increase?

          • Serbia77

            No offense meant but I dont think i can ever give too much importance to your comments since you have been referencing idrw and wikipedia as a source. If you take a closer look, that article was written by a person called manjunath reddy (ridiculous) for idrw’s “my take”. That means anyone, you and me included could also write whatever comes to our mind without any credible evidence to back our claims under “my take” and it will be posted on idrw’s main page with a bold disclaimer. Also FYI idrw is a personal blog run by some Indian defense aficionados (see for yourself). It is not and i repeat NOT a trustworthy defense news outlet. Since you so confidently referenced idrw (maybe after googling your search query about F-35’s offer to india) i hope that you would realise that most of the news articles on that blog are cut and paste articles written by ToI and the other major indian news outlets, which none of them btw have ever reported what M. Reddy claims. I had hoped that people such as you would atleast do some research before emphatically putting forth an amateurish blog as a trustworthy source.
            Honestly speaking I dont have an axe to grind with you but your statements are too much based on supposition and hypotheses and overtly optimistic conclusions rather facts and straightforward evidence from credible sources. If lockheed martin spokesperson, Indian MOD officials and a ex-airforce chief all unanimously affirm to the same thing, then for me personally it is a no-brainer as to whom should i trust. Some unknown entity with no credentials like M.Reddy writing an essay for a privately run blog or some statements from people directly concerned with the matter.
            Also again i would urge you to open IDSA and read about the MMRCA debacle. For god’s sake. Funds had already been issued, IAF had selected the fighter but the congress party in India kept on dragging its feet for a number of years(6 years to be precise). The result was that the fund initially allocated for 126 jets proved short as dassault increased the prices citing inflation and depreciation of Indian rupee compared to the euro as the main reason behind it.
            I rest my case!

          • Joseph

            At least I provided citable sources, reliable or not. But so far you haven’t. Unless I am talking to the defense minister of India then you and I are always just guessing.

            Unlike you I don’t blindly believe official statements (I am not that naive).

            If you ever use your brain at all then read what you wrote, the LM spokesperson and the MD official you quoted said 2 different things.

            But it looks like you are not an open minded person, so I guess it is pointless to discuss with you any further.

          • J.Arandas

            I totally agree. IDRW, especially its ‘my take’ section is notorious for bogus reporting.
            Next we might hear someone claim that US has indeed agreed to shift the white house to India. Why? Because India and US ties are blossoming and US considers India its great friend. When asked to provide any credible evidence they would say “here is the source…to me it looks like sufficient hinting that US might move its white house to India in the future”.
            Ah, internet forums never run out of conspiracy theorists and overtly enthusiastic people forcing ludicrous theories down other people’s throat. Seriously, these day some people read too much between the lines…much more than what is required!

          • Joseph

            I never said or implied F-35 production line would be moved to India. Since India was not a F-35 partner of any level. Even if F-35 is sold to India it is unlikely there will be any technology transfers. So of course F-35 production in India would be ludicrous.

            Also it is a bit naive to believe that kind of official statement (the Indian government bit). Have you ever heard the saying in politics:”Never believe anything until it is officially denied.”?

        • Jigsaw

          Don’t think they’re gonna retire any aircrafts before the backlog is secured. That’s for sure. So those mirages and F7s might just see mid of next decade. PAF doesn’t want to order any more block 1/2s than already done, but will ramp up on block 3 to address retired jets. The response PAF has is largely based on threat perception from India, which is also flying a large quantity of obsolete jets, more than PAF. I strongly support a customized J-31 in PAF instead of any other platform for many reasons and to address Rafale threat. As for arms race, it’s been going on forever. With or without PAF acquiring new platforms, India will anyway go for them – since they react to China as well. I dont think pakistanis should not go for a platform just because it will have the opponent go for another platform. It’s illogical. They should acquire whatever fits their strategic needs and aims.

          • amar

            Hi Jigsaw, the quantum of “obsolete” jets isnt as much as you think. A lot of jets are being upgraded to contemprary standards, some of them are-
            1) MiG-29 to SMT standards
            2) Mirage-2000 to 2k5 standards
            3) Jaguar with latest AESA radar and terrain avoidance mode. In fact Jaguar is going to be IAF’s first fighter jet with an AESA radar. First upgraded jaguar with ELTA-2052 is already flying in bangalore. Kindly note that after installing new engines and AESA radar, Jaguar will be very potent aircraft. It will certainly surpass F-16 blk-52s in radar and low level strike feature.

            So, now, if you see the only “obsolete” aircraft in Indian fleet are mig-21 and 23. All of the mig-27s have been retired from IAF. Not to mention the fact that mig-21s in IAF have been upgraded with modern navigation and BVR capability– something the pakistani J-7s lack at the moment. This doesnt mean that mig-21 is a modern plane– I merely highlighted it to prove the point that IAF jets are certainly not as obsolete as their pakistani counterparts.

          • Jigsaw

            The only potent fighter jet in IAF will be Rafale. Everything else is about maintaining quantity. Obsolete or near obsolete jets being upgraded – fine.

          • FAUJI JAT

            So you think Su 30mki is obsolete, then what is f 16 or jf 17?

          • Jigsaw

            Use them both eyes. I did not mention Su-30 MKI to be obsolete but it’s nothing PAF would be or is worried about. The catalyst will be Rafale.

        • Headstrong

          Historically, whenever India’s made moves to develop technology which has been denied, upon the first sign that the indigenous project looks promising, presto! the technology suddenly gets offered.
          This is a standing joke within India. If history is anything to by, India announcing the FGFA deal with Russia would open the door for the US to offer F-35

          • Jigsaw

            Guess there’s a strong chance F-35 will see orders from IAF in coming years, with or without F-16s. Only question is if India is willing to strategically rely on US (and US technologies in F-35) to extent of its prime fighters being American for next 30-40 years.

          • J.Arandas

            Dear Jigsaw, I dont think India will ever buy the F-35. So far Lockheed Martin has not even showed interest in participating with their F-35s in any of the multi-billion dollar IAF or Indian Navy’s tenders. There has never been an official discussion regarding the F-35 so far. Some reasons which are major impediments for India to operate the F-35s are:
            1.) India under Modi has made it an unwritten official policy that it wants transfer of technology (ToT), atleast some, whenever it inks a multi-billion dollar contract. With the F-35 that is impossible and also the US will not be willing to shift the F-35’s production line to India similar to the F-16 deal. The success of Modi’s flagship project “Make in India” depends on ToT and local production. With the F-35, both those requirements are highly unlikely to be fulfilled by the US.
            2.) India will be forced to sign the CISMOA and BECA agreements to operate such a sophisticated platform like the F-35. Something the Indian government has repeatedly stated over the past 3 years they don’t want to citing ‘sovereignty’ and ‘security’ concerns.
            3.)F-35s if chosen will never be integrated with other russian origin air force assets in the IAF which form a huge chunk of its fleet. A huge disadvantage. India’s S-400 will also be a concern.
            4.) India has already sunk a lot of funds into the PAK-FA project with all weather friend Russia with agreements for ToT and local production in collaboration with HAL. It would be foolish and a waste of resources to back out of the deal now and go for another 5th gen platform. Infact Dmitry Rogozin just last week said the FGFA negotiation is back on track with India and is expected to be signed in the near future.
            5.) Cost. According to IHS jane’s F-35 CPFH is $32,000 USD while that of the saab gripen was just $4000 USD. Operating costs was a big factor why IAF chose to go for single engine fighter jets in which F-35 jets didn’t even participate.
            6.) I dont think any US jet will ever form the mainstay of IAF’s fleet for the foreseeable future. Strict and conspicuous ‘End User Monitoring’ agreements of US would be a big impediment. I think India has done fine with the latest french and russian jets and would continue to do so in the future as well with some european fighters (saab gripen) thrown into the mix.

          • Jigsaw

            Hi, That’s your opinion and that was mine. Your reasons may be valid for time being, but you’d be surprised (i’m not) how changing priorities and geopolitical realignments creates decisions never before imagined in your wildest dreams.

            There was a time when it was said India will never buy any American weaponry – it’s happening today and more than ever.

            In any case, if India does not induct F-35 and keeps relying on Rafale, F-16s block 70s (say its decided), it will go in favour of PAF because as of now, China has an edge over Russia even in development of 5th gen fighter, and it so seems China will establish itself as a bigger supplier than Russia in next one decade or so – better technology integration and systems. A customized J-31 or J-20 (could happen) will be a major induction in PAF.

            On the other hand, it’s needless to pay attention to AMCA. FGFA does not appear yet to be a mass producible fighter.

            But i did state it will depend on how willing India is to embrace US technologies and dependence.

          • J.Arandas

            I wouldn’t hold my breath on either J-20 or J-31. China’s capability to independently produce a 5th generation platform is highly questionable since the world is witness that China hasn’t been able to produce a single fighter jet of even the 3rd or 4th gen class with all the subsystems developed, designed and manufactured in China. Even China’s frontline fighters of the J series (copies of sukhois) are heavily reliant on russian engines. And why would a country still rely on imported Su-35 fighters when it actually boasts of developing 5th gen fighters, ready to be mass produced in the near future.
            Moreover we all know there is more hype to chinese subsystems than is the reality. One of the reasons of hype and falsely bloated capabilities could be the lack of transparency and immense secrecy behind all their weapon systems. For example, China markets the JF-17 as 4th gen platform, but any unbiased, neutral comparison with other 4th gen platforms of the world indeed brings out the stark shortcomings of the JF-17 platform. Even a 4th gen 70’s era jet like the F-16 Block 52 is still more capable than the much newer JF-17 Block II.

          • Jigsaw

            I think your statements regarding J-20/J-31 and in general on China’s military industry advances are highly biased given the facts. Either you are completely ignorant of Chinese advances or you’re simply pretending to be. Either way – it’s at your own peril or bliss. Rest assured, if there is a country that is genuinely trying to become a major defence articles producer and exporter – it is China. Qualities issues aside, the strides are obvious to any neutral person.

            You also lack the necessary know how on JF-17 programme, its objective, and what it was sought to replace, hence you end up comparing it to a fighter jet it was never aimed to compete with – but the block 3 will address that in critical areas.

          • Joseph

            “any unbiased, neutral comparison”

            And clearly you are not capable of that. I guess you are an Indian, am I right?

            This is the problem of this forum, sometimes it gets nationalistic and reasoning and facts are out of window.

  • Abdul Rashid

    Guys, be mindful of Quwa comments policy. Let not disagreements become personal attacks.

    • Jigsaw

      Kindly take note of it Abdul. Thanks.

      • Abdul Rashid

        It’s been noted, Jigsaw. We do check each comment and filter out any personally offending content as far as reasonably practical.

        • Jigsaw

          Thanks.

          • Abdul Rashid

            We try our best.

            I say “personally offending” but it is difficult drawing the line in a South Asian community where any negative criticism of JF-17 or the Tejas is often construed as a personal insult and where subjecting someone’s favourite political leader to scrutiny (a democratic norm) is an invitation for an onslaught of abuse.

  • Jigsaw

    None of that is internal matter to Pakistan considering the shame it has brought to Pakistan internationally, but i will report you for making personal and below the belt attacks.

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