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Pakistan Defence Review (April 2019): Modest Steps for the Short-Term & Significant Plans for the Long-Term

Pakistan to Reportedly Buy Egyptian Mirage 5s

On 17 April 2019, the aviation journalist Alan Warnes reported that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has inked a deal with Egypt for a batch of the latter’s Dassault Mirage 5 fighters.

Alan Warnes did not reveal the number or sub-model of the fighter, but he noted that the PAF will use most of the aircraft to support its existing Mirage III/5 fleet.

Today, the Mirage III and 5 fighters serve an integral role in the PAF as primarily strike-oriented aircraft. In addition to having the ability to deploy the H-2 and H-4 stand-off range (SOW) glide-bombs, which have ranges of 60 km and 120 km, respectively, the Mirage is also the PAF’s main asset for deploying the Ra’ad-series of air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM).

Considering Pakistan’s current fiscal limitations and its small supplier pool, the PAF is also unlikely to procure an off-the-shelf fighter to complement (or supplant) the Mirage for strike missions. In effect, the Mirages will endure until the JF-17 (be it via the Block-III or a future variant) or Project Azm materialize into suitably capable strike platforms.

Former Pakistan CAS Reportedly Says Project Azm Design is ‘Complete.’

Speaking to the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI), the previous Chief of Air Staff (CAS) of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), retired Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman had reportedly stated that the PAF had completed the design of Project Azm, its next-generation fighter.

A direct quote is not available, but a summary of the retired CAS’ speech is available on the official website of the ICCI with the aforementioned claim. According to ACM (retired) Sohail Aman, the PAF completed the design process in two years. No additional details were provided.

The statement appears significance on first glance, but ‘design’ is a broad concept. In one sense, it could simply mean that the PAF has frozen its air staff requirements (ASR) for Project Azm.

It is also a possible reference to the engineering design work. However, this is still an early stage as it necessitates testing (e.g., wind-tunnel testing) and, depending on the results, could require a re-work of the design and another two years before Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) can begin producing the first prototype. Thus, the only thing that can be gleaned from the statement is that the PAF has crossed a major milestone with Project Azm, but the project is still in infancy.

Pakistan’s Top Defence Suppliers are (Firmly) China and Turkey

The Deputy Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), a Russian, non-governmental think-tank, Konstantin Makienko surmised that Pakistan is a potential market for big-ticket Russian arms, such as combat aircraft and air defence systems (via RIA Novosti)…

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