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Pakistan’s air chief visited Russia in bid to strengthen ties

Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), recently made an official visit to Russia on the invitation of Colonel General Viktor Bondarev, the Commander-in-Chief of the Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily Rossii (VVS – i.e. Russian Air Force).

While in Moscow, ACM Aman met with Colonel General Bondarev and discussed a range of matters of mutual interest. Aman also met with top representatives of Russia’s aviation industry, and had sought to explore areas of collaboration between it and its Pakistani counterpart.

According to Pakistan’s Daily Times, the two sides “agreed to increase mutual cooperation in particular and boosting the aviation technology jointly.” ACM Aman also stressed the need for the PAF and VVS to engage in training and air exercise schemes in the near future.

Comment and Analysis

Russia and Pakistan have gradually been thawing their defence ties over the past several years. Granted, Russia’s longstanding – and lucrative – relationship with India has placed a dampener on expectations for big-ticket sales between Moscow and Islamabad (at least for the short-term), but this official visit by Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman (on an invitation from Russia) is a clear indication that tangible efforts are being made by both sides. Specific details were not given, but there are a number of ‘stand-out’ issues that are likely of interest for both sides.

At present, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s core aims consist of improving the JF-17 Thunder, and in laying the groundwork for its next-generation fighter platform. In terms of the former, the PAF depends on the RD-93 turbofan, a minor derivative of the early model Klimov RD-33, an engine line that powers the MiG-29. Given the antiquated nature of the RD-93 (and the inefficiencies it causes in terms of maintenance and use), the PAF could potentially be pushing for a current version of the turbofan, such as the RD-33MK (which PAF officials noted as a possible RD-93 replacement in April).

The RD-33MK has a thrust output of 9.4 tons (92kN), full authority digital engine control (FADEC), and a lifespan of 4000 hours, which is substantially higher than the RD-93’s life of 1200 hours. The RD-33MK also has a time between overhaul (TBO) of 1000 hours, in contrast to the RD-93’s 600 hours. With the RD-33MK, the JF-17 will improve in terms of its maintenance and operational costs.

In terms of long-term prospects, the inclusion of the Russian aviation industry in assisting with the next-generation fighter in some shape or form would be interesting. While this idea is purely speculation, it is worth noting that RSK MiG (formerly known as Mikoyan) did assist in the development of the JF-17 (albeit through China). There is genuine expertise and support to be had from Russia, if not in direct relation to the fighter, then perhaps in terms of fighter development in general (e.g. capacity building in terms of infrastructure and skilled human capital).

The Pakistani government had claimed that it would consider Russian fighters in lieu of new-built F-16s from the U.S., it is unclear if this is something on the PAF’s roadmap, at least at this time. In fact, in late 2015 there were numerous reports of Pakistan expressing interest in the Sukhoi Su-35 (IHS Jane’s). Although India is working to source a larger proportion of its weapons from the West, its defence ties with Russia are still quite lucrative for Moscow. This is not something Russia will tamper with for the sake of a smaller set of sales with Pakistan, not unless India’s value in the equation drops substantially.

That said, it seems Moscow’s intentions, at least in the areas it feels are viable, are genuine. It is likely that work in areas such as helicopters (and setting up MRO facilities for them in Pakistan), armoured vehicles, general technology support and training programs will proceed. Big-ticket acquisitions, especially in areas that could pose a direct threat to India (e.g. fighter aircraft), are unlikely to happen, at least in the short or medium-term.

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  • by Syed
    Posted July 24, 2016 10:31 pm 0Likes

    All the pieces of puzzle are in place,the days of India taking everyone for a ride are over

  • by MT
    Posted July 25, 2016 8:08 am 0Likes

    India is buying 100+ Pak-FA/T-50 with investment of 15-20 bill$.
    Its still buying/manufacturing another 40-50 Su30MKI in India while old 230-270 MKI will be upgraded to Super Sukhoi.

    Pakistan share in Russian defence deal is not even 0.5% of what India commits to Russia

    Posted July 25, 2016 8:13 am 0Likes

    this kind of thinking of pakistanis is what we in India describe as ‘delusion’. Russia will not sell anything to pak which significantly increases its strike potential. you will surely get helicopters and other low key items but in limited numbers.

    As far as Indo-Russia relations are concerned, it will never degrade, no matter how much we come close to US.

    a piece of advice. don’t watch too much of @Q ahmed quraishi kind of shows otherwise your delusions will become acute mental disorder.

  • by bill
    Posted July 25, 2016 11:54 am 0Likes

    Sorry Sir I beg to differ on one point with u , considering serious interest shown by high level official circles in SU 35 it is evident that Russia is ready to sell SU35 to Pak only hurdle is perhaps finances as Ruskies are unable to offer credit line to Pak.

    Further though SU35 is a hi tech fighter/bomber yet in limited numbers it may not provide PAF any upper hand on IAF. However it shall be credible addition to challenge to IAF front end fighter jets like Su30, Mirage 2000 or Rafael. This is perhaps the reason behind stopping China to offer J11 series to Pak.

  • by @bla bla
    Posted July 25, 2016 12:09 pm 0Likes

    India is good in making propaganda for the last decade it was buying Rafales which is going to be scraped Now its buying PAKFA than F 16 , F 18 super hornet than Grippen Stop dreaming and wasting others time just be happy with SU 30 nothing more you can get

  • by SP
    Posted July 25, 2016 4:56 pm 0Likes

    Pakistan should focus on JF-17 and an additional aircraft that has a new airframe and offers a technological leap over PAF’s current fleet of JF-17 and F-16. PAF high command needs to overcome its fascination of the U.S and plan for tomorrow instead of living in yesterday. The U.S policy is aimed at weakening Pakistan and Russia can offer much needed help to Pakistan. Russia is also not a fair weather friend like US but a strategic ally come whatever the weather. However like Putin’s visit was cancelled, Russia needs to see some seriousness from Pakistan otherwise the opportunity will be missed and Pakistan would suffer.

  • by Syed
    Posted July 25, 2016 11:15 pm 0Likes

    India is making the same mistake in International relations that it did in Kashmir ……they thought that jobs and money could buy Kashmiri’s loyalty……how did that work out Mr.MT

  • by MT
    Posted July 26, 2016 2:07 am 0Likes

    rafale deal is almost signed mr bla
    pak fa is jv of india with russia & it ll never be scrapped if u understand indian policy

    indian deals are usually delayed but not cancelled
    there s nothing certain abt America aircraft
    bcoz of American restrictions of technology transfer & indian distrust of usa

  • by bcm
    Posted July 26, 2016 11:42 am 0Likes

    Not really, poor analysis and out of context

  • by @bla bla
    Posted July 26, 2016 12:08 pm 0Likes

    I can bet you India will never buy Rafale its just a drama nothing more India is happy with crappy SU 30 MKI it does not deserve anything more than that

  • by Mazhar
    Posted July 26, 2016 2:11 pm 0Likes

    To All Indians who post their malice on this site. Better read properly this article, it is mentioned that we, Pakistan, are not expecting any dramatic change in Russian policy to supply aircrafts or any other lethal weapons which can cause unrest in Indian administration, BUT things can and will change in future, You Indians, keep chanting your rants against Pakistan. We had always been trying to keep deterrent, India has more resource and we know it very well. No more walk in the park at Chowinda sector like in 1965 when you attacked with 500 Tanks, now tactical nukes have been deployed at that sector and scenario is totally against you. Other parts of the country will follow the suit. As long as our economy is concerned, keep barking about it too but we will keep the deterrence at all costs. We also know what weapons you are purchasing from all around the world with using same 70 years old rhetoric that these weapons to deployed against China but actually are against Pakistan, not for China, you can’t DARE go against China. Kashmir and Siachin are illegally held by India, check your own people what they say about it on you tube. Check your Jotshees are saying about 4th YUDH against Pakistan. Now from now on, stop your nonsense comments about Pakistan.

  • by syed
    Posted July 26, 2016 11:16 pm 0Likes

    That analysis hit the nail on the head……..the days of Banya mentality are numbered Mr.BCMC

  • by Sami Shahid
    Posted July 27, 2016 7:45 am 0Likes

    I don’t think Russia will ever limit its sales to Pakistan…this is what the Pakistani government believes but I don’t think Russia will limit its sales just because of India.

    Posted July 28, 2016 2:19 am 0Likes

    China can’t go against us except for blocking us at NSG which anyways sooner or later we will be in. We don’t believe in astrologers to predict outcomes of war.
    You must have seen videos on YouTube of standoff between Indian and Chinese troops on border. ….ever imagined why chinese if they are so strong and acclaimed super power fire upon Indian troops to dislodge them from disputed lands? Come out of your china envy.

  • by Mazhar
    Posted July 28, 2016 9:01 pm 0Likes

    Pal, Indians are addicted to Jotshees, for elections, investments, stock exchange, marriage even your date of liberation was selected by your jotshees, so please don’t tell me that you guys don’t believe in astrologers. These Jotshees /Nostradamus have already mentioned that army with 3 lions will be defeated in final showdown, stop playing with fire. You folks have only one objective when it comes to Pakistan that whole world should use your glasses to view Pakistan. Don’t sell anything to Pakistan and don’t buy anything from Pak specially in defence related stuff. Come on man, be a brave enemy, stop this childish behavior. Army, Air Force and Navy with $50 Billion annual budget, are afraid of 8 F-16s or any weapon acquisition by Pakistan. You folks will never get free ride in the park as you dream about cutting Pakistan in half with big offensive push. Tactical nukes will be used to push you off. So act with sanity. Just adding a few more words later.

  • by bcm
    Posted July 29, 2016 1:43 pm 0Likes

    F16 is a bygone case. What are you talking? most of the countries are phasing it out. The production line in US has very few orders to keep the line running.

  • by bcm
    Posted July 30, 2016 2:20 pm 0Likes

    Well that surprises me too. They should not be concerned with small number of F-16’s. As far as Russia is concerned they just want to make money by selling those platforms which are at the end of their life cycle.Example -Su 35, Mig 29 S300.

  • by Mazhar
    Posted July 30, 2016 5:00 pm 0Likes

    Echelon: watch this report of your own. KUNDALI etc:

  • by bcm
    Posted July 31, 2016 1:42 pm 0Likes

    I dont think Indians took any body for ride. They are honest people and helpful too. They gave billions to Afghanistan for development work. You guys took US for ride and took away billions of US tax payers money. Extremely dishonest people, I see plenty of you in UK sitting on social benefits paid by hard working British tax payers. Morally you should sit on social security in your own country.

  • by Headstrong
    Posted July 31, 2016 2:30 pm 0Likes

    It’s not the number – it’s the intent. The US itself has seen through Pakistan’s tricks now

  • by X2
    Posted August 7, 2016 6:29 pm 0Likes

    V well said bro u nailed it. Keep it up

  • by bcm
    Posted August 8, 2016 11:27 am 0Likes

    Well its hardly immaterial considering the fact that Indians have large number of Sukhois which are better than f16. Naturally Pakistan will look for something in its defence, considering that the fact even terrorists are hostile to Pakistan too.

  • by bcm
    Posted August 8, 2016 11:30 am 0Likes

    Well they will sell you the stuff which is not much worth. The reason being is they wont spoil their relations with India .They make billions from India which unfortunately you dont have to give them. Today everything is economics. Just selling you some shit helicopters and outdated engines does not make you a strategic partner.

  • by Mazhar
    Posted August 8, 2016 10:31 pm 0Likes

    Yes, SU-30s are a big threat and they are better than F-16s due to thrust vectoring.

  • by Mazhar
    Posted August 8, 2016 11:43 pm 0Likes

    BCM—There is no such thing as “TAX PAYERS” money. Since 1972, USA delinked its $ from gold and since then, they are keep printing money and giving it to nations as AID or loans. Their MINTS are keep printing dollars out of regular paper and ink. This is one of the biggest reason that USA is under debt of it’s own “Federal Reserve Bank” for 14 + Trillions. I know several Indians who are on Benefits, so keep your ideas up to you.

  • by bcm
    Posted August 10, 2016 10:45 am 0Likes

    Well Fed Ex actually lends it to US government on interest. But you always get money in aid from many nations, you cannot deny it. Even I know several Indians living on benefits but they are not educated masses, they are people who came on asylum . But the way Indians are doing well ,you guys figure nowhere. I dont see you anywhere either in business or high positions. I see you guys as taxi drivers in US , Canada and UK. May be due to your religion, your IQ is less. All Islamic countries are like that.

  • by bcm
    Posted August 10, 2016 10:49 am 0Likes

    Well in the case of Crimea crisis, India alone stood with Russia, even China abstained from the session. So naturally Russia is a close ally of India in any case. These Pakistanis ,Turks and Arabs think they are something whom global powers will give due privilege. All illiterate fools.

  • by bcm
    Posted August 10, 2016 10:56 am 0Likes

    Well not only that It has many more qualities.due to superior upgrades by Israel.The Russian too have their SM version of MKI, they found its performance better than Su35 baring the range, thats why they inducting them in large numbers.

  • by Sami Shahid
    Posted December 30, 2016 1:38 pm 0Likes

    MIG-35 would be better

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