As previously reported by the EurAsian Times, Pakistan has begun to purchase J-10C fighter jets from China. Pakistan’s interior minister, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, was the first to announce the purchase in December, stating that the freshly purchased jets would perform a fly-past at the Pakistan Day celebrations on March 23, 2022.
Last week, six J-10Cs were allegedly seen landing at the Pakistan Air Force base in Minhas, Kamra, according to a video circulated on social media. Rasheed Ahmad later verified this at a press conference.
“We have the J-10C,” the minister added, which was unexpected. With God’s help, a day will come… I’m not sure when the J-20C, which will be the world’s most sophisticated aircraft, will arrive in Pakistan…”
Ahmad’s remark came just weeks after Pakistani and Turkish officials hinted that the two countries were collaborating on the development of a stealth fighter plane. The J-20 is China’s fifth-generation fighter, with major production expected to begin in July 2020. It was first flown in 2011 and is currently in service with the PLA Air Force.
Pakistan’s J-20 stealth fighter jet?
China is a major supplier of weaponry and other military hardware to Pakistan, which serves as a strategic counterbalance to India. Pakistan is buying J-10C fighter jets to counter India’s Rafale fighter jets, as Rasheed Ahmad previously confirmed.
Nonetheless, the minister’s most recent declaration demonstrates Pakistan’s desire to obtain the J-20 ‘Mighty Dragon.’ However, given Pakistan’s precarious financial situation, it’s uncertain how the government would be able to afford a stealth fighter plane.
Furthermore, China has never publicly stated that it intends to sell its J-20 aircraft, owing to Beijing’s desire to maintain top-of-the-line military weapons to itself. When it comes to its own stealth fighter, the F-22 Raptor, the US follows a same procedure.
Song Zhongping, a former officer in Beijing’s strategic missile force, revealed the export prohibition of J-20 stealth aircraft in a December 2014 interview with China’s Phoenix TV. “Advanced Chinese military technology cannot be exported,” Song stated. “This is to keep enemy hands away from J-20’s fifth-generation technology.”
When the United States Congress banned the export of the F-22 stealth fighter in the mid-2000s, they cited the same justification. Japan had previously placed an order for F-22 Raptors. According to Song, if the US decides to export the F-22 in the future, China may consider eliminating its prohibition as well.
The J-20 is expected to cost between $100 and S$120 million per unit, according to experts. Pakistan may not be able to afford these jets’ high purchase and maintenance costs. Furthermore, the government lacks the technical expertise required to service and maintain fifth-generation planes.
The FC-31 is a stealth aircraft.
The J-20’s export ban does not suggest that China has given up on the lucrative worldwide market for radar-evading aircraft. Shortly after the J-20’s debut, Shenyang Aircraft Corporation unveiled the FC-31 stealth fighter prototype. Unlike the J-20, which is financed by the government, the FC-31 is fully self-funded.
Pakistan is said to be interested in purchasing the FC-31 stealth fighter. According to the manufacturer, the FC-31 is a single-seat, twin-engine, medium-sized multi-role fighter jet with stealth, situational awareness, high mobility, and highly integrated logistics. To attract overseas customers, the aircraft is planned to be economically priced.
The FC-31’s maker has formed a separate office to promote the plane in overseas markets. Despite the fact that the FC-31 is not currently in PLAAF service, the manufacturer appears to be working to make it available to the Chinese military.
Pakistan could negotiate an agreement to buy these planes in the future. China has proposed the FC-31 stealth fighter plane, which costs around US$70 million, or about half the price of the Lockheed Martin F-35.
However, it is unclear how Pakistan will engage with Turkey on the development of a fifth-generation fighter plane while still wishing for a stealth fighter from its all-weather partner China.