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Pakistan Orders J-10 Fighters from China

On 29 December 2021, Pakistan’s Minister of Interior, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, revealed that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) will induct J-10 fighter aircraft from China. Ahmed said that the PAF will induct the aircraft by 23 March 2022, i.e., in time for the country’s annual national day parade.

The PAF has yet to comment on the matter. However, multiple observers following the PAF’s procurement activities have confirmed that the PAF will acquire the J-10CE, with deliveries slated to start in 2022.

Not a Surprise: Off-the-Shelf Fighters Were Always on the Radar

The PAF was seeking an off-the-shelf fighter to complement its fleet modernization strategy since at least 2016. Initially, the PAF had sought additional F-16C/D Block-52+ so as to expand its fleet of 18 aircraft. But the deal fell through over the U.S.’ refusal to let Pakistan use Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to help fund the acquisition. The F-16 contract – and, in all likelihood, the PAF’s hope for additional F-16s in general – fell through, thus prompting the PAF to seek alternatives.

In 2017, then PAF Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman, said, “Pakistan definitely has to induct new aircraft. We have both Chinese and Russian options.” This statement may have indicated the PAF was choosing between the J-10CE and, potentially, the Su-35…(end of excerpt, read the rest on Quwa Premium).

What Happens to the JF-17?

On the surface, the J-10CE would seem like a conflicting or redundant acquisition, especially as the PAF is inducting the JF-17 Block-3. In fact, with the J-10CE and JF-17 Block-3, the PAF would be adding two AESA radar-equipped fighters to its fleet within this decade. This is a significant capability gain.

Thus far, the PAF is committed to ordering 30 (of the originally slated 50) Block-3s.[1] It is unclear why it has cut its Block-3 orders. However, funding for the J-10CE and/or freeing capacity for potential export orders could explain the reason. That said, it is unlikely that the PAF will be limited to only 30 AESA radar-fitted JF-17s. The PAF will likely retrofit its JF-17Bs, Block-2 and, possibly, Block-1 aircraft with the KLJ-7A AESA radar as well. The PAF could also order additional Block-3s…(end of excerpt, read the rest on Quwa Premium).

[1] Alan Warnes. “Pakistan’s Roaring Thunder.” Air Forces Monthly. May 2021

End of Excerpt (346/1,534 Words). 

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