The Pakistan Air Force on Friday held an induction ceremony for the first batch of six J-10CE fighter jets in Kamra, with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attending the event. With the delivery of the J-10CEs, China and Pakistan opened a new chapter in aviation defense cooperation, and it will significantly contribute to the further deepening of the China-Pakistan All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership. The official commissioning of China’s new-generation main battle aircraft into the Pakistan Air Force marks the systematized, organic export of such aviation equipment by China, and is yet another major milestone in the export of China’s advanced aviation equipment, state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
Pakistan is a traditional and important partner of Chinese aviation arms products, AVIC said, noting that the country not only commissioned the J-6 fighter, the J-7 fighter and the Q-5 attacker, it also joined China’s development of K-8 basic trainer. In the 21st century, facing new combat environment and the international market, China and Pakistan jointly developed the FC-1, an all-weather, single-engine, lightweight, multirole fourth generation fighter jet also known as the JF-17. 58% of the JF-17 airframe, including its front fuselage, wings, and vertical stabilizer, is produced in Pakistan, whereas 42% is produced in China, with the final assembly and serial production taking place in Pakistan.
The Chengdu J-10 (NATO reporting name: Firebird) also known as Vigorous Dragon is a medium-weight, single-engine, multirole combat aircraft capable of all-weather operations, 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), Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and People’s Liberation Army Naval Air Force (PLANAF). The J-10 is mainly designed for air-to-air combat, but can also perform strike missions. The similar appearance of the J-10 and the IAI Lavi, particularly in the use of canards, has also raised suspicions. 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.
In 2009, the AVIC planned to offer the J-10 and the CAC/PAC JF-17 Thunder for export. The export version of J-10C 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 (may also be known as FC-20E). In December 2021, Pakistan announced the purchase of 25 J-10Cs; they were projected to enter service in March 2022. On 4 March 2022, the first batch of 6 PAF J-10Cs landed at PAF Base Minhas (Kamra) after a ferry flight from Chengdu, China. It excels at systematic, cooperative combat, is capable of striking multiple targets from beyond visual range under complex electromagnetic environment, and can deliver precision attacks on ground targets with multiple guidance modes.