Pakistan Air Force presented its transformative modernization initiative in a press release published on its social media platforms on Tuesday.
A key milestone in this strategic transformation has been the acquisition of fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft; the foundation for their induction into the Pakistan Air Force has already been laid, the Pakistan Air Force said.
According to a video attached to the press release, the fifth-generation stealth fighter that will be inducted into the Pakistani Air Force is China’s FC-31.
Pakistan Air Force Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu stated on January 12 at a new equipment handover ceremony that the FC-31 would enter service in the near future, US media Defense News reported.
Developed independently by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the FC-31 is a single-seat, twin-engine, medium stealth fighter that analysts say is comparable to, if not superior to, the US F-35.
Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the FC-31 has strong air combat capabilities, including its stealth advantages, which allow it to detect its adversaries first and launch surprise attacks.
The aircraft has excellent situational awareness and can carry a wide selection of munitions, including not only air-to-air missiles but also precision bombs, as well as air-to-ground and air-to-surface missiles, Wei said.
The Pakistan Air Force has long been using weapons and equipment acquired from China, such as J-10C medium fighters, JF-17 light fighters, HQ-9BE long-range surface-to-air missile systems, -HQ-16FE medium and long-range air and YLC-8E anti-silence 3D surveillance radar systems, according to the published video.
According to experts, Pakistan will have no difficulty integrating the FC-31 into its combat systems, and in return, the stealth aircraft will significantly enhance its military capabilities within a generation.
The FC-31 will allow the Pakistan Air Force to enjoy a generation gap over its rivals with rapid delivery, while Pakistan’s main rival will likely not get stealth fighter jets shortly, Wei said.
Wei said the purchase plan will also benefit China, noting that if Pakistan finalizes the deal, other countries, especially those in the Middle East, could also follow.
In possible joint exercises with other countries, the Pakistan Air Force could showcase the capabilities of the FC-31, and more potential customers would learn about the competitiveness of the Chinese aircraft, Wei added.