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From China With Love: Pakistan Offered J-10B Squadron

August 4, 2011

Chinese J10

The Chinese have always described their bilateral ties with Pakistan in the most glowing terms. The press release circulating the expected J-10B  transfer is no exception as it launches with, “Taking bilateral defense relations to a new high, China will give Pakistan a squadron of the advanced J10B fighter.”

Apparently the scene of this most generous gift was during a visit to China by Lt. General Waheed Arshad. General Arshad is the Chief of General Staff, thereby the highest ranking officer in Pakistan. Gen. Arshad’s presence in China was reported on July 20–also the date of his arrival–and the J-10B figured at a subsequent meeting with members of the Chinese defense industry present. Much earlier, the general was at the National Defense University, where many Pakistanis officers are currently being trained.

The Chengdu J-10B is one of the most advanced multirole aircraft in the PLAAF arsenal. Originally designed in the 1980s, the J-10 is widely believed to be a copy of the Israeli Lavi fighter that never entered production. This interesting piece of background information is often dismissed by Chinese defense officials, who maintain it’s derived from an earlier prototype. The newer J-10B variant has multiple improvements over its predecessor including an aerial refueling nozzle and an infrared pod in front of the cockpit. According to Wikipedia, the PLAAF operates a fleet of 130 J-10’s and three dozen were offered to Pakistan as early as 2006 when then President Pervez Musharraf toured a production facility.

French Mirage III

The belly of the Mirage III.

Pakistan maintains a diverse air arsenal that includes many Chinese aircraft such as the F-7 (a Chinese MiG-21 clone) plus French Mirages and US F16’s. Pakistan’s state-owned aerospace firm also jointly produced the advanced J/F-17 with Chengdu. The J-10B, however, is a major step forward. Compared to the original J-10 (pictured above), the B variant possesses ECM equipment and is differentiated by the shape of its inlet under the airframe and curved tip of its tail fin.

J-10’s that enter Pakistani service are re-designated as FC-20’s.


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