Satellite images reveal several upgrades at Pakistan’s strategically-important Bholari Air Force Base close to the India border. Open-source intelligence Twitter handle @detresfa_ has posted the images taken during the China-Pakistan joint air exercise held at the airbase near Karachi in December.
New bunkers and new building sites can be seen at the airbase in Sindh province, northeast of Karachi. A closer look at the images reveals rebars and excavation for plinth beams and another building site at the place where Shaheen IX joint exercise took place.
Seen as a project of strategic significance for capacity enhancement serving both the Air Force & Navy, #Pakistan's Bholari Air Base located near #Karachi shows new upgrades in imagery taken during the recent #China–#Pakistan joint exercise #TheIntelLab pic.twitter.com/IxoSrPyB80
— d-atis☠️ (@detresfa_) January 31, 2021
Pakistan and China had conducted Shaheen (Eagle) – IX exercise at Bholari in December 2020. Pakistan Air Force Chief Sohail Aman had said that the drills hold “strategic significance for capacity enhancement of Pakistan Air Force in operational domain both over land as well as at sea”.
In the northern side upgrades of the airfield, minor development activity has been noticed at the northwest fuel farm. Work is underway at a 50X50 suspected support site, an operational support building, a new bunker under construction, and aircraft shelters which were readied at the end of 2020.
At the munitions area upgrades, construction materials, and five bunkers under construction have been spotted. The Bholari airbase is Pakistan’s one of the most modern operational bases.
Inaugurated in December 2017, the airbase is aimed at providing the Pakistan Air Force with the additional capability to support the land operations of the army more efficiently.
In addition, the base is expected to increase the maritime operations carried out by the Pakistan Navy besides safeguarding the vital China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects in the vicinity.
With frequent attacks at CPEC project sites, China has often raised concerns and demanded security at those locations.
Chinese fighter jets and troops had participated in the bilateral military exercise. The air force drill was aimed at improving “actual combat training”.
The last edition of the joint air exercise, held in China’s Xinjiang in September 2019, was the largest with the two countries deploying at least 50 combat aircraft for the same.
Beijing and Islamabad share close military ties. China helps Pakistan to jointly produce JF-17 fighter jets and other armaments.