Sajjad Hussain Islamabad, Nov 22: Pakistan plans to buy the fourth generation stealth fighter aircraft from China to boost its defence capability, according to a media report today. The matter was being discussed with Chinese authorities, Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
"It is for the first time that a senior government functionary has confirmed talks with China over purchase of the longer-range stealth aircraft an issue that has been a subject of speculation in defence circles since the 10th edition of the Zhuhai Air Show (China) held earlier this month, when the aircraft was unveiled," the paper reported.
The Jane's Defence Weekly also quoted an unnamed Pakistani official as saying that the Pakistan Air Force was in talks with China to buy 30 to 40 of the Shenyang FC-31 fighters. FC-31 being developed by China primarily for the export market and reportedly several countries are interested in the aircraft believed to be comparable to US F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
A prototype of the aircraft, designated as J-31, has been flown by the Chinese aircraft research and development firm Shenyang Aviation Company for a couple of years now. What particularly interests the PAF is that FC-31 prototype (J-31) and JF-17 use the same Russian Klimov RD-93 engines.
Pakistan is increasingly relying on China as a reliable source for its defence procurements. Hussain said that Pakistan was also interested in Chinese attack helicopter Z-10. China and Pakistan had earlier co-produced JF-17 Thunder. Pakistan has been eagerly trying to market this fighter aircraft. "We have nearly confirmed orders from seven countries for JF-17," Hussain said.
Pakistan, which is at present producing Block-2 of JF-17 at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, is eyeing orders from countries in the Middle East and Africa. "The PAF has a requirement of 250 aircraft, but now we have decided that we'll sell some of the JF-17 Block-2 to international buyers besides fulfilling our local demand," the minister said.