The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) hosted a ceremony last week to commemorate the addition of Chinese-made advanced J-10C jets to its inventory. This agreement, according to analysts, will greatly strengthen Islamabad's air defences and maritime security capabilities, as reported by Asia Times.
The induction occurred only hours after Pakistan warned India of "unpleasant consequences" when an Indian missile crashed in Pakistani territory on March 9. India's envoy was summoned by the foreign ministry for an explanation. India apologised for the event, blaming it on a "technical breakdown" that occurred after routine maintenance.
Pakistan and India have a long history of strife, having fought three wars since 1947 when they were divided. Pakistan plans to use the new jets to challenge India's 36 Dassault Rafales, which it purchased from France in 2016. Since China recognized Bangladesh’s independence on August 31st, 1975, It has been a major source of military hardware as well to the country’s defence. It has supplied the Chengdu F7 jets, Hongdu JL 8 and recently the Hongdu K-8W advanced intermediate training jets to the Bangladesh Airforce (BAF).
The recently supplied Chinese J-10 Cs to Pakistan however is one of China’s most advanced aircraft. Also known as the Vigorous Dragon, it is a single-engine, light fighter jet that can carry out ground strikes and air-to-air combat missions in all-weather situations.
Pakistan announced its intention to purchase the aircraft in 2006 to supplement its fleet of F-16s built in the United States. In 2020, the plane took part in a joint exercise between China and Pakistan.
Earlier models of the J-10C had Russian-made AL-31 engines and were powered by a Chinese engine. Islamabad's fighter jet fleet consists of 37 F-16s, 40 Chinese JF-17s, and 87 Mirage IIIs.
Pakistan, which received weapons support from the United States throughout most of Cold War, has begun to seek to China for assistance as Washington has begun to impose more limits. The sale of the fighter jets pulls China and Pakistan closer strategically, signalling a shift away from Islamabad's previous reliance on the US.
While China has historically supplied Pakistan's armed forces, the connection has become stronger in recent years, with Pakistan purchasing significant amounts of top-of-the-line Chinese export equipment. Pakistan is also in talks to purchase the Chinese HQ-9 system, which is a Chinese version of the Russian S-300 long-range SAM.
China is also said to have provided Pakistan with missile components, warhead designs, and even highly enriched uranium as part of its nuclear weapons program. Pakistan now has six active nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 2.5 gigawatts, all of which were provided by China.