Pakistan Air Force has officially confirmed its long-speculated acquisition of the Chinese Chengdu J-10C Multirole fighter jet, which is slated to arrive in time to take part in the March 23 Pakistan Day Parade. Rasheed Ahmed, Pakistan’s interior minister, told the media last year the country acquired 25 aircraft. The purchase comes after the Indian Air Force received another batch of French-made Rafale fighters. India and France signed a contract for the delivery of 36 Rafale fighters worth about $8.8 billion. The aircraft is manufactured by Dassault Aviation. All the fighters are due to arrive by the end of 2022.
The Chengdu J-10 (NATO reporting name: Firebird) also known as Vigorous Dragon (M?nglóng) is a single-engine, multirole fighter capable of all-weather operation, configured with a delta wing and canard design, with fly-by-wire flight controls, and produced by the Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The J-10 is mainly designed for air-to-air combat, but can also perform strike missions. The J-10 was designed and developed by the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (CADI), a subsidiary of Chengdu Aircraft Corporation.
The J-10 is similar to the IAI Lavi. The similar appearance of the J-10 and the Lavi, particularly in the use of canards, has also raised suspicions. The double canard configuration has been attributed to Chengdu’s work on the cancelled J-9 of the 1960s and 1970s; this view is supported by Song Wencong, who worked on the J-9 and became the J-10’s chief designer, and PLAAF Major General Zhang Weigang. There have been no public statements or formal claims along those lines; by 2000, however, openly disclosed advanced technology transfer of any origin had become anathema to the United States, which forced Israel to cancel a sale of Phalcon airborne early warning planes.
Pakistan’s interest in the J-10 spans more than 10 years. The country was first interested in the FC-20 export variant of the single-seat J-10A. In 2009, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) planned to offer the J-10 and the CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder for export. Flightglobal speculated an upgraded J-10B would be offered. The J-10 was offered to Pakistan in 2006 and negotiations persisted into 2012. In September 2020, it was reported that Pakistan was interested in the J-10CE. 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.