Pakistan has officially confirmed the purchase of at least two squadrons of Chinese Chengdu J-10 single-engine fighter jets.
The order was announced by Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad in a public event on December 29, 2021, Pakistani media reports.
The size of the acquisition was not revealed, although several Pakistani sources have claimed that between 25 and 36 aircraft have been purchased.
According to Ahmad, the deliveries will begin in March 2022. 25 J-10s from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) will participate in Pakistan Day celebrations set to take place on March 23, 2022.
Ahmad referred to the jets as “JC-10s” but did not specify the exact model that will be delivered.
The minister also claimed that the purchase is Pakistan’s response to India’s deployment of the Dassault Rafale. India first began to receive the French fighter jets in 2020, and has been steadily increasing their number in its Air Force, as well as testing the naval variant of the aircraft.
Chengdu J-10 is a single-engine 4.5 generation fighter jet, which first flew in 1998 and was introduced with PLAAF in 2005. As of late 2021, it is the most common fighter jet in the Chinese inventory, with over 460 in service.
It has an extensive number of variants, including the basic J-10A and a twin-seater training version J-10S. In the early 2010s, an upgraded J-10B was introduced, and in 2018 all the previous versions were discontinued in favor of the J-10C. The jet features a diverterless supersonic inlet (DSI) and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The export version of the J-10C is informally referred to as J-10CE or J-10E.
Chengdu has been offering versions of the J-10 for export since its introduction. So far, no foreign sales have been conducted. The only agreement which China signed with Iran ended in a deadlock.
J-10 sales negotiations began with Pakistan in 2006. However, they were abandoned several times in favor of the JF-17, a similar single-engine fighter jet jointly produced by Pakistan and China.