Pakistan Unveils Transformative Modernization Plan with Acquisition of Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighters

FC-31 acquisition was highlighted in a video accompanying an official RAF press release
  • bureau
  • 03:48 PM, January 17, 2024
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Pakistan Unveils Transformative Modernization Plan with Acquisition of Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighters
China's FC-31 stealth fighter jet @via Chinese state media

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) unveiled its ambitious modernization initiative, prominently featuring the acquisition of the Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter jets, through a press release posted on various social media platforms.

A key milestone in this strategic overhaul is the induction of fifth-generation stealth fighter jets.

The confirmed acquisition of China's FC-31 (Shenyang J-31) was highlighted in a video accompanying the press release, affirming earlier media reports that Pakistan had expressed interest in procuring the advanced aircraft.

Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, Pakistan's top military official, declared the country's intention to acquire the FC-31 during an induction ceremony for new equipment on January 2. The introduction of this fifth-generation fighter is expected to potentially replace early versions of the F-16 within the PAF fleet, altering the air force's capabilities significantly.

The Pakistan Air Force has long been using weapons and equipment procured from China, including J-10C medium fighter jets, JF-17 light fighter jets, HQ-9BE long-range surface-to-air missile systems, HQ-16FE mid-to-long-range surface-to-air missile systems and the YLC-8E anti-stealth 3D surveillance radar systems, according to the video it published.

The FC-31, developed by China's state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), is a single-seat, twin-engine, medium stealth fighter jet that Chinese analysts claim rivals the capabilities of the U.S.' F-35.

The FC-31 has strong comprehensive air combat capabilities, including its stealth advantages that allow it to spot opponents first and launch surprises attacks, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the semi-official Global Times on Wednesday.

The aircraft has outstanding situational awareness and can carry a wide selection of munitions, including not only air-to-air missiles, but also precision bombs as well as air-to-ground and air-to-surface missiles, Wei said.

The fast delivery of these stealth aircraft is expected to provide Pakistan with a generational gap over its rivals, particularly its main regional counterpart, India, which is yet to operate a stealth fighter. New Delhi is currently developing its indigenous stealth fighter, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), expected to be inducted after 2030.

The J-31 stealth fighters have been subject to scrutiny for their resemblance to American F-35 and F-22 aircraft, with reports suggesting that China may have obtained classified information in 2007 for their development.

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