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Pakistan is reportedly interested in Su-35 & Mi-28NE


According to several recent news reports, Pakistan is in active talks with Russia for the acquisition of Su-35 multi-role fighters and Mi-28NE dedicated attack helicopters.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s purported interest in the Su-35 Flanker-E is not a new story. In fact, several reports, including one from IHS Jane’s no less, pegged PAF interest in the latest Flanker variant in September last year. Now six months later, it seems that the Russian daily Kommersant was able acquire specific details about what may have been talks between Russia and Pakistan.

In short, the PAF may seek up to six Su-35s for around $500 million U.S. To the observer, that is certainly a very small number, especially for an air force as large as the PAF. Based on the Kommersant report, fiscal constraints on Pakistan’s side will prevent it from committing to a large number of aircraft.

Normally, Pakistan would engage in big-ticket arms purchases through the use of term financing or line of credits extended by the vendor. Given Russia’s economic precariousness and the sensitivities surrounding its ties with India, it is evident that Pakistan was not able to secure such support, hence it would need to pay for its purchases upfront with cold hard cash.

Like the Army’s Mi-35 purchase, the PAF may simply be looking to procure the Su-35s based on funding from existing budget allotments. As long as the Su-35 remains in production, the PAF could simply add to its fleet through regular small-batch purchases. In other words, it would not stick to just flying six aircraft; rather, it could build respectable fleet over the long-term. This is what the Army is intending to do with the Mi-35 – acquire four in the short-term, gradually build a fleet of 20 over the long-term.

So, why is the PAF apparently looking at the Su-35? What could it hope to achieve with such a few aircraft? When answering these questions, it is important to understand that any purchase of Su-35s would not be done with the aim of building a large Flanker fleet. Rather, it would be done to address specific gaps and to pursue certain capabilities that are not currently present.

For example, the long-range nature of the Su-35 may be attractive to the PAF in terms of its desire to build-up its maritime aviation capabilities, which are of vital use to the Navy. On the other hand, the Flanker-E’s massive payload capacity of 8000 kg may be enticing from the standpoint of acquiring a much more effective stand-off strike platform – i.e. a truck for multiple air-launched cruise missiles, anti-ship missiles, glide-bombs with high-explosive warheads, etc.

If equipped with a sufficiently powerful radar, the Flanker-E could even serve as a “mini-AEW” [airborne early warning] platform, enabling the PAFs JF-17s to use the Flanker’s superior sensor output (via data-link) to acquire an enhanced situational awareness of a combat zone.

Finally, there may even be a value in having the Flanker-E available on-demand for dissimilar air combat training (DACT), enabling PAF F-16 and JF-17 pilots to better understand the Indian Air Force’s mainstay fighter, the Su-30MKI and Super Sukhoi.

While certainly not easy to operate and cost-effective to maintain, the far reaching gains of possessing the Su-35 Flanker-E could outweigh the costs. However, it is important to manage expectations, especially as the PAF has not officially said anything on the matter.

In tandem to the Su-35 news, a Pakistani diplomatic source apparently told IHS Jane’s that the Pakistan Army is now actively interested in acquiring the Mi-28NE Night Hunter dedicated attack helicopter. A previous article on Quwa recommended that the Pakistan Army adopt the CAIC Z-10, hence it is unclear exactly what utility the Army is trying to extract from a possible Mi-28NE purchase.

According to Jane’s, the Army’s interest in the Mi-28NE was triggered when the Mi-28NE dual-control version entered production at the beginning of this year. This new Mi-28NE variant is not only capable of enabling both of its aircrew to operate the aircraft, but it also features enhanced ballistic protection. It is plausible to suggest that the Army is interested in acquiring the Mi-28NE from the angle of possessing a heavyweight attack helicopter akin to the AH-64D Longbow or AH-64E Guardian. In this case, the Army would have a platform with significant payload capacity and ballistic durability, which in turn equates to a suitable offensive asset for use in intensive operations (e.g. anti-armour).

However incremental the initial PAF and/or Army orders would be, to see Russia engage in such dealings would be an interesting shift, one that India will not take lightly. It would be in Pakistan’s hope to see Russia treat its defence relationships with India and Pakistan independently of one another, though it is unlikely India would tolerate such an arrangement, and will try to exert its influence to thwart Pakistan’s plans (if those plans are indeed genuine). Pakistani defence planners will need to consider this issue as well, especially if they begin weighing big-ticket arms purchases from Moscow.

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  • by SP
    Posted April 1, 2016 10:28 am 0Likes

    Pakistan despite its obsession with western technoloogy will not be getting the F22 or F35. Even if available Pakistan cannot afford them.

    Pakistans friendship with US since 1950s, in particular during the last 4 decades has been worse than enemity. The friendship has been instrumental in destroying Pakistan. With hindsight Pakistan would have been better off in the Russian camp as its friendship is more genuine.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted April 1, 2016 10:30 am 0Likes

    All current defence deals with Russia are pilot projects. If things work out well, expect more arms and civilian deals between Russia and Pakistan. Pakistan can offer CPEC to Russia for its needs and try and create a working relationship here in face of emerging alliances.

    Whether or not SU-35 or Mi-28 come, Russia and Pakistan’s relationship will change for better in many ways in days to come, though an addition of SU-35 and Mi-28 will be a killer addition to PAF and PAA to carry out certain ops lethally.

  • by Ashi Sidhu
    Posted April 1, 2016 11:40 am 0Likes

    Really interesting but I am still sceptical about it

  • by Guest
    Posted April 1, 2016 11:52 am 0Likes

    I am sorry but ur words confuse me, Is the Mi 28e capable or not capable of both pilots flying it?
    Secondly I believe the Pak Armed forces are definitely looking for a cost effective way of maritime security, as aquiring 6 to 12 Su35s will probably be cheaper then aquirng 4 Frigates, isnt it? Such a jet can easily carry four long range antiship missiles and be a great detterent from the air. Giving Pakistan great defense even when its navy is short on frigates.

  • by Mohsin E.
    Posted April 1, 2016 12:37 pm 0Likes

    It’ll take years to understand and operate the Flanker to it’s full potential. So an initial buy of 5 aircraft makes sense. Large initial numbers would be counter-productive, since we won’t be able to deploy them effectively anyway. It’s a completely different platform relative to what the PAF is used to… Even though 500 million isn’t a trivial amount for the PAF, it’s small enough that if we find the Flanker doesn’t suit our requirements, we can back away from further acquisitions without taking a major bank hit. Another selling point of this deal is its geopolitical implications, which would strengthen Pakistan’s position with Russia, encouraging the China-Russia-Pak nexus.

  • by Ashi Sidhu
    Posted April 1, 2016 4:07 pm 0Likes

    China is making its own weapons and decreasing Russian weapons hence there is no nexus rather it’s a China Pakistan North Korea nexus

  • by SP
    Posted April 1, 2016 5:40 pm 0Likes

    If memory serves me right then PAF carried out an evaluation of a Russian aircraft in 1990’s but nothing came out of it due to PAF window shopping only, not being serious and due to Indian influence at the time on Russia. However now the situation has changed as Indian is increasingly looking at the West for armaments and Pakistan is getting more serious about buying Russian armaments, as the option of western armaments has disappeared. The level of trust has increased as evidenced by PAF aircrafts JF-17 being powered by Russian engine. The interests of Pakistan and Russian are increasingly converging due to the new realities and in particular due to the US-India-Israel nexus , but there are elements in PAF that are still stuck in a time warp and have fond memories of the US where they spend some time on courses.

  • by saqrkh
    Posted April 1, 2016 5:53 pm 0Likes

    I missed a word, should be “not only…”

  • by arthardewi
    Posted April 1, 2016 8:37 pm 0Likes

    I still don’t belive Russia have guts to sell su 35 to Pakistan because this will make Russia aerospace company lose indian market to Boieng USA giants . Even if one SU 35 go to Pakistan F 18 block 3 fighter jets door will be open in India and Russia will lose indian market to USA Boieng .

  • by arthardewi
    Posted April 1, 2016 8:39 pm 0Likes

    Russia will not sell more attack helicopter and SU 35 to Pakistan this will be bad for Russian defence industry.

  • by arthardewi
    Posted April 1, 2016 8:41 pm 0Likes

    Pakistan will have to stay happy with JF 17 made in china fighter jets SU 35 will never get Pakistan color.

  • by arthardewi
    Posted April 1, 2016 8:42 pm 0Likes

    Russia will never sell any attack helicopter or SU 35 Pakistan can dream on that.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted April 1, 2016 9:11 pm 0Likes

    How many times do you need repeat the same thing? Are you convincing the people or yourself?

    P.S: time of indian blackmail and threats are long gone ever since india made a fool of itself on mmrca drama. Keep your fingers crossed. Coming years will form many interesting alliances. Pak-russia is one of them.

  • by saqrkh
    Posted April 1, 2016 10:58 pm 0Likes

    “will lose” – who won?

  • by MT
    Posted April 1, 2016 11:26 pm 0Likes

    Russian won’t give up bill $ market of India for a country that needs aid to fund minuscule purchases
    Russian want pak-fa deal which is worth 20bill$. They all neverr sell Su35.

    On the contrary India companies bought 5bill$ stake in sanctioned Russian oil company: Rosneft.

    What has Pak to offer to Russia??

    Pak only card is Taliban and it has cashed 35bill$ pocket money.

    World Geo politics is changing. Pak survived 70 yrs with India card
    West and China extorted it with cash and weapons to contain India
    In 2016; I only see China which still feel that India can be bogged down if chin continue to support Pak State based terrorist group which will further push india in American camp.

    Russian are already making deal with USA to come out of sanction

    Russian don’t want to act as second fiddle to China. So next decade ll see rise of Western neutral Russia

  • by zac
    Posted April 2, 2016 3:13 am 0Likes

    Pakistan within the last few weeks bought x4 Russian mi35 attack helicopters cash and awaits delivery much for your “russia will never sell” haha….oh and as for Indian influence over russia…. gone are those days money talks ..keep deluding your self fine but don’t bullshit the rest of us. .

  • by Guest
    Posted April 2, 2016 11:03 am 0Likes

    Hmm, thanks,
    Do u think Russia will sell Pakistan the latest fully capable Su35 or will it sell a trimed down version? Will Pakistan be able to get an AESA radar with its Su 35s?

    and is it really that Pak armed forces are thinking of investing in cheaper Su 35s for maritime security as compared to more costlier frigates for the time being.

  • by Steve
    Posted April 2, 2016 1:26 pm 0Likes

    PAF will never get SU 35

    Every child wants the MOON ; but can you get it

  • by Steve
    Posted April 2, 2016 1:30 pm 0Likes

    Pakistani economy is a JOKE ;soon Pakistan will become bankrupt by 2020

    Russia wants BIG deals with India ; not a few small deals with Pakistan

  • by Waqas
    Posted April 2, 2016 1:47 pm 0Likes

    Not sure you are drunk or in senses when righting above last 10 years india got funding of $ 85 billion compared to $5 billion by pak.

  • by MT
    Posted April 2, 2016 4:06 pm 0Likes

    FDI is not an aid you fool
    ! On the contrary Pak received 35bill $ free doles from USA which went down drain with Taliban getting strengthened by Pak army

  • by jigsaww
    Posted April 3, 2016 7:28 am 0Likes

    You are lying as always.

    “The United States, over the period 1946-2012, has given India the largest amount of economic assistance, while providing Israel the greatest quantity of military assistance over the same interval, according to data compiled by USAID.”

    “Data compiled by USAID and released recently shows that India received $ 65.1 billion in economic assistance from the US in inflation-adjusted dollars in the period 1946-2012, closely followed by Israel, which received $ 65 billion.”

    Not that you need these sources. The begging is evident from indian faces, so is the terrorism.

  • by MT
    Posted April 3, 2016 7:53 am 0Likes

    We are discussing geo political situation in last 2decades. US have given almost nill aid to india since 1998 as compared to 35bill $ free doles provided by usa to terrorist sponsoring neighbor.

  • by Vap
    Posted April 3, 2016 8:42 am 0Likes

    Keep Yapping..

  • by Steve
    Posted April 3, 2016 11:46 am 0Likes

    Keep fantasising and deluding yourself

  • by jigsaww
    Posted April 3, 2016 12:31 pm 0Likes

    i don’t care how much aid has india received before or after a certain time. the fact remains, india is the largest recipient of USAID in the world while faking it all.
    Imagine a national of a proven terrorist nation accusing pakistan of something. India is the terrorist of this region and the world and Pakistan army is going to prove this to UN, and the world. Your ugly arses are going to be exposed too much now.

  • by Ahmad Shah Durrani
    Posted April 3, 2016 9:34 pm 0Likes

    I think Pakistan interest in only 6 Su-35 E in the begining is just a trial balloon to deflect Indian and American objections. After all the temper tantrums, hissy fits and emotional outbursts by the Indians who have 10 times bigger airforce subsides Pakistan will order 30 more Su-35s. Pakistan need 36 Su-35 E to balance 36 Rafale in India.

  • by middleway1
    Posted April 6, 2016 1:32 am 0Likes

    North Korea is not in any nexus. It is a wild card.

  • by Ashi Sidhu
    Posted April 7, 2016 8:56 pm 0Likes

    Probably but north Korea nuclear programme was helped by A Q khan network of Pakistan and China secretly provided some assistance such as mobile rocket launchers and other luxury stuff to its dictator

  • by middleway1
    Posted April 8, 2016 8:50 am 0Likes

    I don’t see the point of this. Nowadays, all technical progress occurs on the shoulders of others, and is a collaborative effort. It is silly to keep harping about how Pakistan got help from China, etc. India’s nuclear program received technology from Canada, US and other Western nations. Similarly, The US, British and French all developed their nuclear programs in cooperation with each other. The US developed it’s rocket program after importing German rocket scientists from Germany after WW II. All of these developments took place without any attempts by other countries to place sanctions or stop these programs. India was not under Western sanctions when it developed its program, but Pakistan had to do it under the radar because of sanctions. If there were no sanctions, like India, Pakistan did not need to develop the Khan network. In addition, Pakistan being the only nuclear Muslim country has been and remains under pressure from the West. Part of the goal of AQ Khan was to try and dilute the pressure on Pakistan by supplying the technology to other countries. In addition, Pakistan received missile technology from North Korea in return- a good bargain, in my opinion. So these things have to be seen in context, rather than used as arguments to “score points”.

  • by Javed
    Posted April 25, 2016 10:21 pm 0Likes

    Pakistan is not part of any nexus, never was.Our defense alliance with US(cento,seto) were big mistakes. Defense coperation with China is now 50 years old starting with supplying f-6 in1966 to now JF17 and in between K-8 Korarkoram. China has helped us with a modern defense industry although slow at times but never stopped altogether. On another note Russian hardwere is very maintenace intensive, the design concepts of 4th generation are unsual if not strange. I mean who would want a parallel two seater SU35 (not sure if it is another plane). There are handful of countries who have opted for latest SU-30.Besides there must be reasons other than money.

  • by Javed
    Posted April 25, 2016 10:32 pm 0Likes

    There is every reason Pakistan should not and must not not get F35 or F22. First these planes are for “tier one” nations and prohibitively expensive. Neither Pakistan nor India are in this category.
    Pakistan just has to wait a little longer (by 2020/22) for Chinese technology to become mature such as J31 etc even then we may not need this platform. We will be more than happy with J10/J11 etc in sufficient numbers; There are no plans over the horized for Pakistan to get this or equivalent platform. Remember threat perception determines our defense retirements.

  • by Javed
    Posted April 25, 2016 10:40 pm 0Likes

    First deal with French as they have taken India to cleaners in Rafael deal, $244.00 million a piece and it is just the beginning. Russia on the other hand is realizing India’s deception and diversifying its defense markets and Pakistan is on top of that list.

  • by Javed
    Posted April 25, 2016 10:46 pm 0Likes

    A wishful thinking at best and markets don’t evoleve or open like this. India is just not capable to absorb US technology. Have not you seen India’s performance with Russians. For fifty long years Russia walked India holding its hand but not one notable fighter came out of HAL. Pretty shameful and dismal.

  • by Javed
    Posted April 25, 2016 10:50 pm 0Likes

    A great move if you say so. We outsmarted US and you morons. But it is not like that but if you juvenile insist we are happy that you loose your sleep on that.

  • by MT
    Posted April 26, 2016 9:37 am 0Likes

    u got the money while u continue to support taliban terrorist

    but there were indirect blow back turning your country into terrorist state & bottom 10 in stability

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