The Pakistan Air Force received the Chinese-built J-10C fighter on Friday. China operates the J-10C, which is an export variant of the J-10 fighter. The inauguration ceremony at the Pakistan Air Force base in Kamra featured Prime Minister Imran Khan as the chief guest. Pakistan’s state-run broadcaster, PTV News, also posted a video of five J-10C jets in flight and on the tarmac.
The Pakistan Air Force dubbed the J-10C the “Dragon from the East” during the induction ceremony. In June of last year, the Pakistan Air Force claimed to have signed a deal with China to purchase the J-10C. The plane was described as “omni-role,” with “unrivalled manoeuvrability” and advanced electronics and weapons, according to the company. Dassault refers to the Rafale as a “omni-role” aircraft.
Despite claims that Pakistan had purchased the J-10 or a variant of the fighter for over a decade, the purchase was only confirmed late last year. Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, announced the induction of 25 J-10C fighters into the Pakistan Air Force in late December.
He described the purchase as a reaction to India’s introduction of Rafale fighter jets. Rasheed had previously stated that the entire fleet of 25 J-10C jets would fly at the Pakistan Day military parade on March 23.
The J-10C is Pakistan’s first new aircraft since the JF-17, which was also developed by China, was delivered to the Pakistan Air Force.
The J-10C is significantly larger than the JF-17 and can carry a larger payload of weapons and fuel. The aircraft received by Pakistan were equipped with an infrared search-and-track (IRST) system on the nose, according to a video shared by PTV News. The heat signature of aircraft or missiles can be detected by IRST. Unlike radars, IRST does not reveal the host jet’s location, increasing its survivability.
The J-10C is the Pakistan Air Force’s first aircraft to be equipped with an IRST, giving Pakistan a capability that India has had for decades thanks to the MiG-29, Su-30, and Rafale.
China may also supply Pakistan with the PL-15 air-to-air missiles for the J-10C, according to reports. The PL-15 is thought to be capable of hitting targets up to 200 kilometres away.