PESHAWAR – In the first shots of a new South Asian arms race, China has delivered the latest versions of its J-10 multirole tactical fighter aircraft to ally Pakistan. The jets will aim specifically at countering India’s improving air combat capabilities, recently enhanced by the procurement of French-made Rafale fighters.
Last week, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) held a ceremony marking the induction of the Chinese-made fighters into its arsenal, which analysts say will significantly boost Islamabad’s air defenses and maritime security capabilities. Pakistan is scheduled to take delivery of 25 J-10 fighters from China over the next few years.
The sale brings China and Pakistan closer together strategically in a clear move away from Islamabad’s past reliance on the United States. Prime Minister Imran Khan and his army, naval and air force chiefs all attended the ceremony to inspect the aircraft. In a potent photo op, Khan sat in the cockpit of one of the fighters while being briefed on its features.