Pakistan has formally commissioned a first batch of six Chinese J-10C fighter aircraft into its air force at a special ceremony, with Prime Minister Imran Khan and heads of the country’s armed forces in attendance.
A Pakistan Air Force commentary during a nationally televised induction event Friday called the Chinese jet the “Dragon from the East,” saying the “omni-role” aircraft is armed with advanced electronics weapons.
The military had in January confirmed the long-speculated deal with China for the supply of J-10C jets. It had said that the acquisition was being done in view of the regional security matrix that required Pakistan’s armed forces to continuously upgrade their capacity.
Many think the J-10C deal is Pakistan’s answer to Rafales bought by India from France.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had told journalists in December that J-10C jets would participate in the March 23 parade.
Addressing the ceremony on Saturday, the Prime Minister thanked China for providing the jets to Pakistan in a “record time of eight months”.
“I am glad that our armed forces have a futuristic and forward-looking approach because technology is going to be a great tool for future warfare,” he added.
The Prime Minister said the entire nation had the confidence that our armed forces were fully capable to defend the country. He recalled that Pakistan’s response in the wake of the Balakot intrusion sent a clear message to the world that the country was capable to defend itself.
He stressed that developing indigenous technology was the need of the hour, saying “Pakistan is working on it”.
PM Imran noted that Pakistanis were skilled in all modern fields, but they were based abroad. He then expressed the hoped that the country’s talent would soon be serving Pakistan. “We can build any institution of international quality and we are very much capable of it.”
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Federal Ministers Pervez Khattak, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, Zubaida Jalal, Asad Umar, SAPM Shahbaz Gill, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan Navy Chief Amjad Niazi, Pakistan Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Babar Sadhu and Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan were also present.
The prime minister also acknowledged and appreciated the No 15 Squadron of the PAF for expediting the induction of the J-10C aircraft in record time. He congratulated the nation on the induction of the new multi-role fighter aircraft and also thanked China for delivering the fighter jets to Pakistan in a short period of eight months. “When F-16s were inducted 40 years ago, the whole nation was jubilant and now that time has come again as Pakistan is strengthening itself. There was an attempt to create an imbalance in the region however, the induction of the fighter aircraft has again created an equilibrium,” he said.
Referring to the country’s progress, Imran said recently record tax collection has been made, exports increased and record remittances were collected as a result of which the country was generating wealth. “As our wealth increases, our top priority is to uplift the poor through various programmes like health cards and Ehsaas programme. The second is to strengthen our defence,” the PM said.
Earlier, upon arrival at Minhas Air Base, the Chief of Air Staff welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan and federal ministers. The prime minister inspected the guard of honour and later inspected the J10C fighter jets and learned about the technology and features used in these aircraft. The premier climbed up into the cockpit with the air chief and the COAS as an officer gave them a briefing on the jet’s capabilities and functionality.
The J-10C is a 4.5-generation medium-sized fighter jet and is more powerful than the China-Pakistan jointly developed lightweight fighter jet, the JF-17. It can be equipped with a bigger active electronically scanned array. The aircraft can also carry more advanced, fourth-generation air-to-air missiles including the short-range PL-10 and the beyond-visual-range PL-15.
Sources: VoA News, Dawn News, The News International