As India is rapidly acquiring military hardware due to the possibility of a two-front conflict with China and Pakistan, Islamabad is exploring the latest missiles and jets from its key ally China including the J-10 fighters which are considered 4.5 generation jets similar to the advanced version of the F-16s of the US.
While the option for acquiring the J-10 jets had been on Pakistan’s table for quite some time it was halted with the joint production of the JF-17 fighter jets.
According to the sources quoted by Indian media, high-level government officers have informed that the discussions have resumed again among the Pakistani and Chinese officials for the procurement of J-10C jets for the PAF. Along with the J-10, Pakistan has also requested the PL-10 and PL-15 short-range and long-range air to air missiles.
Powered by a Russian engine giving it a maximum static thrust of approximately 123 kN, the single-engine tail-less canard delta wing J-10C is an upgraded version of its predecessors, sporting an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) fire control radar and is made of composite materials for high strength and lower weight.
As the US is gradually is cozying up with India and turning against Pakistan, China has become the sole vendor where Pakistan can purchase new aircraft ‘reliably’- two countries with a shared interest against India.
After the brutal clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers at Galwan valley, India ordered additional MiG-29 fighters from Russia which would be added with new technologies along with a Zhuk-AE AESA Radar, making it one of the most potent aircraft in the IAF fleet.
These upgrades would later be carried out on all MiG-29 jets in the Indian service, making it at par with any 4.5 generation plane. Similar upgrades are planned for the venerable Su-30MKI, which has recently been tested to carry the BrahMos and MICA missiles.
However, Pakistan is not worried just because of Rafales, MiG-29UPG, Su-30MKI, or the Tejas. India has also inked a deal with the Russians to procure one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world, the S-400 Triumf, for which deliveries would be starting by the next year.
The J-10CE (the export version of the J-10C), is expected to neutralize some of the Indian threats and pose an additional challenge for the Indian Air Force. Like the F-16, the J-10 possesses a highly agile, aerodynamically unstable airframe that is stabilized by a computer in its fly-by-wire flight control system. The J-10C model is believed to have capabilities similar to a 4.5-generation fighter jet something similar to Indian Rafales.
The most significant enhancement is the inclusion of an AESA radar. AESA radars are the current gold standard in air warfare, boasting higher resolution, and greater discretion and resistance to jamming. China appears to have taken a lead over Russia in deploying AESA radars on its latest fighters.
Though far from the capabilities of a true stealth fighter, these improvements still help decrease the range at which the J-10C can be detected and targeted and could provide Pakistan with an additional deterrence to stop further Balakot-type incidents.