Pakistani and Chinese Air Forces on Wednesday began the Shaheen-X exercise in which the PAF deployed for the first time, the J10-CE aircraft, considered a competitor to the Dassault Rafale fighter.
The PAF had started to acquire a squadron of J10-CE fighters starting in 2021, soon after India began receiving Rafale aircraft from France.
In December 2021, Pakistan announced the purchase of 25 J-10CEs, with an option for 11 more; they were expected to enter service in March 2022. In March, the first batch of 6 J-10CEs landed at PAF Base Minhas (Kamra) after a ferry flight from Chengdu, China. They were later officially inducted into the PAF's No. 15 Squadron Cobras based at PAF Base Minhas (Kamra).
The Shaheen-X joint air exercise kicked off on Monday. The Chinese-made aircraft were inducted into the PAF in March 2022, so they couldn’t take part in Shaheen-IX drills that was held in December 2020.
A Chinese Defense Ministry statement said ground and air forces are “focusing on organizing joint training in typical combat scenarios such as joint air defense, joint countermeasures, and joint seizure and control.”
The drills will include early warning aircraft and other types of planes, as well as ground-to-air missiles and radar and signal troops. Chinese naval aviation units will also be involved in the training.
Independently developed by China’s aviation industry, the J-10CE is a single-engine, single-seat, multirole, fourth-plus generation fighter jet capable of striking multiple targets from beyond visual range under a complex electromagnetic environment, and can deliver precision attacks against ground targets with multiple guidance modes.
Equipped with advanced comprehensive avionics and weapon systems, the aircraft boasts mid-to-low altitude combat maneuverability, supersonic flight, short-range takeoff and landing, large combat radius and long range and mid-air refueling capabilities.
“After more than a year’s independent practice and use, the Pakistani pilots should have already grasped and developed skills and tactics on the J-10CEs, and their first joint exercise with China using the aircraft will benefit both countries’ pilots when they exchange experiences,” Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told China’s government-controlled Global Times on Tuesday.