How china keeps PAF flying

Fact for 5/6/2021



its role in helping Pakistan in keeping its Air Force (PAF) flying despite the difficulties in the procurement of equipment and spare parts from Western and East European sources due to sanctions, foreign exchange shortage and political (in the case of Russia, for example) reasons has not received adequate attention.

The PAF's dependence on Western sources in respect of aircraft for transport, reconnaissance and ELINT/ECM purposes continues to be near-total, with very little assistance from the Chinese. While the transport fleet is of mixed origin (US& West Europe), the entire reconnaissance fleet of 12 Mirage III RPs is of French origin. It uses two Falcon DA-20s for ELINT/ECM.

The transport fleet is of pre-Pressler Amendment (October 1990) vintage. To overcome difficulties, the PAF also uses transport aircraft ostensibly procured for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

As against this, the increasing Chinese role in helping Pakistan maintain its combat/trainer-cum combat fleet in an effective state of readiness to meet any possible threats from India would be evident from the following:

* Of the total PAF holding of 475 combat and trainer-cum-combat aircraft, 271 are from China, 172 from France and 32 from the US.

* The 271 from China consist of 160 F-7MP Skybolt air superiority fighter-cum-interceptors, 15 FT-7MP advance trainer-cum-ground attack planes, 48 F-6 Farmer interceptor-cum--ground attack planes, and 48 A-5 III/C Fantan ground attack-cum-strike aircraft.

* In addition to the above 475, the PAF also has 46 advance jet fighter conversion trainers, which can also be used for light ground attack. All of them are from China--- 25 FT-5, 15 FT-6 and 6 K-8 Karakoram

The non-Chinese holdings are:

* 43 Mirage IIIO

* 21 F-16A multi-role air superiority fighters and 11 F-16B advanced trainer-cum-ground attack planes from the US.

* 20 T-37 Tweets--all from the US. It is a jet trainer.

* 100 Mushak/Super Mushak turbo-prop trainers, locally manufactured.

China's assistance to the PAF started after the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war and this has intensified since the imposition of the sanctions under the Pressler Amendment by the US in October, 1990. The main features of the co-operation are the following:

* Supply of 170 F-6s starting from 1966. Derived from the Soviet MiG-19SFs, the F-6, which was the export version of the Chinese J-6, is the first supersonic fighter, which China manufactured. Of the original lot of 170, only 63 (48 F-6s and 15 FT-6s) remain in active service with the PAF.

Sale of 25 FT-5s in 1975. It is being employed as an advanced fighter trainer serving with the No. 1 (FCU) squadron. Pakistan was and still remains the only non-communist country to buy and operate the FT-5. In the PAF, it is used primarily for combat training and jet-fighter training for graduate pilots.

* The F-6 Rebuild Factory (F-6RF), Kamra: The F-6 Rebuild Factory was established in 1980 to overhaul the PAF's F-6 aircraft and their airframe accessories. It was licensed to manufacture about 4,000 spare parts for that aircraft, and also produce the 1,140 litre auxillary fuel tanks fitted to the F-6. Engines for the F-6 are serviced at the PAF Faisal base at Karachi.

* Sale of 52 A-5C Fantans in 1983 which equip No. 16 and No. 26 Squadrons of the PAF. 48 of them are now in active service. It is the export version of the Qianjiji-5, which first flew in China on 4 June 1965. The Q-5 is derived from the Shenyang F-6 (MiG-19) aircraft. The A-5C (Q-5C) is the improved Q5-I 1976 version of the aircraft. It was flight tested in China in late 1980 and certified for production on 20 October 1981.

Quoting an unidentified officer of the PAF, "The Nation" of Islamabad reported as follows before the exhibition:" The PAF is on the verge of downgrading the specifications for its

next-generation multi-role combat aircraft, the Super-7, because of the Group of Seven's enforcement of an informal ban on weapons sales since last year's military take-over, a ranking PAF source said Thursday. "We will soon reach the point where we may be forced to take a decision to adopt a Chinese avionics suite, instead of the more advanced technology we had hoped to procure from the West," he told The Nation. "Air Command has already been instructed to draw up alternate plans," he added. The political fall-out of the G-7 sanctions is also expected to upset the development schedule of the Super-7, delaying delivery of the first prototype beyond its 2003 deadline, the PAF source said."

Describing the development as a major blow to the military regime, the paper added: "The hi-tech version of the Super-7 was viewed as the ideal replacement for the PAF's ageing medium-tech fleet of F-6s, F-7s, A-5s and Mirages, which are to be retired over the next decade. It is now obvious that its Air Staff Requirement of 150 Super-7s will have to be revised to take into account its inability, in the short-to-medium term, to procure advanced Western avionics, including a multi-mode Pulse Doppler Radar, a mission computer, INS and multi-function displays. The Western arms embargo also means that the PAF will have to revise the Super-7's weapons package, which was to have included a variety of conventional and guided weapons, a potent SRAAM and an active MRAAM."

in the time of 1988-1998 , PAF tried to procure multiple jets 
including JAS-39 , panavia tornado , mirage 2000 , sukhoi su-27 

Between late 1990 and 1993, it evaluated and rejected the British Tornado, took a close look at the Mirage 2000E, and received a misleading offer from Poland for the supply of MiG-29s and Su-27s. In 1992, the PAF revived an 11-year-old proposal to acquire 20-40 Mirage 2000s, but Paris was reluctant to sell a fully capable version for political reasons. A possible alternative appeared in August 1994, when Sweden's SAAB conglomerate offered to supply its JAS-39 Grippen aircraft, but the deal was killed because of its 20 per cent American component content.

During this difficult period, the PAF had little option but to take steps to maintain its fleet size and operational capability.

* This involved the induction of additional F-7 aircraft from China and the launch of two major upgrade programmes, the most important involving the upgrade and overhaul of existing Mirage III and Vs, as well as F-7s, A-5s and T-37 basic trainer aircraft. The PAF is currently taking delivery of 40 upgraded Mirage III and V aircraft under a $118 million contract finalised in February 1996.

* This followed the procurement of 50 mothballed Mirages from Australia under a A$27 million deal finalised in April 1990, from which a total of 45 aircraft have been recovered, upgraded and inducted into the PAF.

* Unfortunately, the imposition of fresh sanctions by the United States in May 1998, following the nuclear tests conducted by Pakistan, has again hit the PAF's maintenance of its F-16 fleet. These sanctions, imposed under the Glenn Amendment, have also affected the serviceability of the PAF's fleet of 12 C-130s, reduced the availability of its automated air defence network, and rendered unusable the six TPS-43 radar employed to provide high-level coverage over Pakistan.

It has been reported that in view of the expected delay in the commissioning of Super-7, the PAF is negotiating with China for the purchase of a new Chinese fighter called the F-7MG. It is said that the aircraft has already been test-flown by PAF test pilots and was found to be a much better aircraft than the F-7Ps in service with the PAF. It has been reported that the PAF wants urgently at least 50 F-7MGs, to replace the remaining two F-6 (MiG-19) squadrons and that, funds permitting, it would like to purchase another 50.

According to latest reports, the new Air Chief would soon travel to China to ink a deal for the procurement of three squadrons of F-7 MG intercept fighters (60) for their immediate induction into the PAF.

The jets are stated to be lying ready with the Chinese manufacturer for the last three years, but the Pakistani authorities could not decide about the various systems to be placed on these interceptors, which have increasingly become Pakistan's only option to enhance its air power. The last flying trials of these aircraft were done by Pakistani pilots in 1997 and the non-availability of the British radars for being fitted posed a major problem.

China and Pakistan were jointly evaluating the Italian FIAR and the French CFS Thomson Radar to be mounted on these aircraft. The Italian Radar has reportedly been found to be suitable. It is a multifunction Radar with look down capability.

It has been reported that the Government of Pakistan had already allocated funds for the purchase of these jets in its budget for 2000-01 released in June, but had not informed the IMF about it. It had also asked the PAF to keep the matter pending till the IMF sanctioned fresh assistance for Pakistan, which the IMF has now done.

It is said that Beijing has also offered a very flexible suppliers credit for the purchase of these fighters.

it is evident that china plays a major role to upgrade , enhance and operate Pakistan Air Force , in future it is also expected that with the aid of china , Pakistan will be developing next gen fighters in order to cope up with the upcoming threats from neighbour countries