The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) confirmed to the Global Times its purchase of Chinese avionics and missiles to equip its 250 JF- 17 Thunder jet fighter fleet.
|Rao Qamar Suleman.|
Rao Qamar Suleman, air chief marshal of the PAF, revealed in an exclusive interview Wednesday that pre-purchase evaluations on several other Chinese air defense systems were also underway.
Suleman said the advanced active radar and homing middle-range missile developed by China, the SD-10 missile, will become the standard Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weapon of the JF-17. He further added "PAF has no plans to install Western devices and weapons on the aircraft for the time being."
It appears that the deal between China and Pakistan was made possible following the withdrawal of a French bid to arm the JF-17 after pressure from the Indian government. Last March, Dow Jones reported that a joint bid by French aeronautics company ATE, along with Thales Group and MBDA, was in prime position to secure a 1.2-billion-euro contact to supply radars and missiles to the first wave of 50 JF-17 fighters. Le Monde also reported that the deal was to be signed during an official state visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
However, larger financial and geo-political factors may have made the deal flatline. In April, Le Monde reported that the French government would not give the green light for the 1.2-billion -euro deal, quoting a source inside President Nicolas Sarkozy's office as saying that this refusal was related to "French-Indian relations."
The deal between France and Pakistan would have brought in 15 million euros per equipped fighter for the ATE consortium.
The precision-guided bombs developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China Defense (AVIC Defense) also caught the attention of Suleman at the Airshow China in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. "It is ideal for counter-insurgency operations," Suleman said.
Suleman also revealed that Pakistan may well order advanced defense missile systems from China, including Chinese Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) systems.