Pakistan confirms Chinese ‘Firebird’ fighter acquisition

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan has officially confirmed its long-rumored acquisition of the Chinese J-10C Firebird fighter jet, which is expected to arrive in time for the Pakistan Day Parade on March 23.

Pakistan’s interior minister, Rasheed Ahmed, told the media last week that the country had purchased 25 aircraft. He compared them to India’s growing Rafale fleet.

He didn’t say how much the deal was worth, and a source familiar with Pakistan’s military acquisition  programmes said he didn’t know if the fighters were “purchased or loaned to Pakistan’s Air Force.”

According to the source, he is “more inclined to the latter, as [the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force] may have given the Pakistan Air Force a few units to test on.”

Pakistan has been interested in the J-10 for more than ten years. 

The FC-20 export variant of the single-seat J-10A piqued the country’s interest at first. 

This was part of the larger Armed Forces Development Plan 2015, which was derailed by a lack of funding during the Pakistan Peoples Party administration from 2008 to 2013.

Pakistan’s interest in the FC-20 was partially driven by a need to complement its F-16, when further acquisition of that program appeared unlikely.

Pakistan is also said to be considering acquiring the Russian Su-35 Flanker-E, possibly to help cover naval operations in the Arabian Sea.

When speculation first arose of a Pakistani J-10C purchase in early 2021, it was linked with one of the Pakistan Air Force squadrons based in Karachi.

January 2022

Source: Defense News

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