Dr Mehmood-ul-Hassan Khan
PRIME Minister of Pakistan and the COAS General Qamar Bajwa have seriously highlighted constant “warmongering” and “imminent” martial “escalations” of India to the regional as well as international countries. Both leaders warned India for its “covert” designs and war preparedness against Pakistan and assured a “crushing” and “befitting” response in any case of aggression and violation of “territorial” and “national” sovereignty. In this time of need, the government of Pakistan has once again secured a firm “assurance” from its biggest “strategic” partner China during the closing ceremony of Pak-China Air Force Joint Drill “Shaheen IX” “The enemy of Pakistan is the enemy of China and attack on Pakistan is an attack on China”. It showed depth of Pak-China iron friendship to deter any external aggression and to maintain “equitable” regional peace and harmony. This announcement has destabilized Indian hegemonic dreams of strategic expansion.
On its part, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), being custodian of Pakistan’s skies, has now showcased extended production of the most advanced variant of JF-17 Thunder Block-III, a 4.5 generation aircraft with far more advanced technology than Indian Air Force Rafael jets. The PAF’s announcement has serious regional repercussions. It will further strengthen and enhance Pakistan’s air defence, tactical and operational preparedness and, above all, much needed martial diversity and manoeuvrability in the days to come. It will equalize Indian so called Air Force supremacy or obsession of Rafael war jet. Most recently, the Pakistan Air Force has received 14 state-of-the-art indigenously developed dual seatr JF-17B Thunder Block-II fighter jets to the air force which further consolidated national deterrence. The handing over ceremony was held in Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra graced by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and newly appointed Chinese Ambassador H E Nong Rong along with high officials of Chinese Aviation authorities and industry.
While addressing the ceremony, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan termed the inclusion of JF-17 Thunder Block-II as “significant” milestone achieved in the national history of Pakistan. He labelled it one of the most tested battles aircraft having modern avionics and electronics much superior than Indian borrowed French Rafael war jets. He assured that JF-17 Block-III will create PAF supremacy over IAF. He also announced “serial” production of PAF’s most advanced 4.5 generation JF-17 Thunder Block-III jets. He appreciated tireless efforts of the members of Aircraft Manufacturing Factory (AMF) and the PAC involvement in the development of the advanced generation of the dual seater JF-17B Thunder and Block-III jets versions. He rightly pinpointed constant onslaught of COVID-19 in the completion of JF-17 Block-II and delay of JF-17 Thunder Block-III during 2020. The Air Chief Marshal highly appreciated valuable contribution of PAC Kamra in developing the JF-17 Thunder Block-II despite all odds during 2020. He hailed joint working and unfading commitment of the PAC and Chinese engineers, technicians and designers for timely completion of the JF-17 Thunder Block-II. He commended the entire team and PAC leadership including PAC Managing Director (AMF) for their concerted efforts to meet the project deadlines. He rightly termed the PAC the “backbone” of PAF operationalization and channelization which also displayed their capabilities to meet challenges with limited resources at the optimum level.
The Air Chief also thanked the Ministry of Defence Production and Chinese Aviation industry for their continuous support. He was of the opinion that dual seater of JF-17 Thunder Block-II and the production of its extended Block-III mark the achievement of a significant milestone as it will play an important role on the rapidly changing geostrategic dimensions of the region and beyond. He assured that JF-17 Thunder Block-III would be a state-of-the-art war jet to cope with any external aggression from IAF in the days to come. He said that development of further progress of the JF-17 Thunders would not be possible without the help of Chinese experts, technicians, designers and planners which has definitely further solidified Pak-China defence cooperation and, of course, iron friendship. To conclude he highly appreciated befitting, active, positive and productive role of the mass media in the projection of the CPEC and development of the JF-17 Thunder. He advised the mass media to continue their positive role in this regard. He resolved that PAF has already vividly reflected its capabilities having every ready response against any aggression of the enemy with a crushing magnitude.
On his part, PAC Chairman Air Marshal Syed Nauman Ali briefed the participants about the JF-17 Thunder Block-II and start of production of its Block-III. He termed it shining symbol of cooperation between Pakistan and China. He highlighted diversified but integrated rich expertise of PAC technicians and experts in the timely completion of the said project against all odds. He appreciated Chinese experts’ positive and contributory role in the development of the JF-17 Thunder Block-II. He thanked extraordinary support of the Chinese Aviation Industry and its associated sectors for the further development of PAC in terms of innovations, modern technologies and, above all, exchange programmes. He resolved that PAC would stand committed to fulfil the sacred duty of augmenting fighting force and strengthen to defend the country’s aerial sovereignty.
On his part the newly appointed Chinese Ambassador H.E. Nong Rong highly appreciated achievements of the PAC in terms of JF-17 Thunder Block-II and defence cooperation. He termed it a perfect model of Pak-China Friendship due to which Pakistan is now self-sufficient to produce modern war jets in the country. He upheld that inclusion of latest version of JF-17 Thunder 17 will further strengthen the PAF capabilities and start of production of its futuristic version Block-III would bring paradigm shift in the region. Most recently, Pakistan Navy Air Defence Units have also demonstrated their combat readiness through live firing of surface to air missiles (SAMs) which showcased its modern persuasion of the Pakistan Navy.
Interestingly, Chinese media has also reported supply of 50 Wing Loong-II armed drones to Pakistan which would be nightmare for Indian ground formations in high altitude areas as Indian military does not have the ability to respond to the modern weaponry. The Wing Loong-II armed drone has the ability to decimate the enemy defences and conventional armour due to which Indian ground formations would be unable to parry an attack by a large number of armed drones. Being a prominent regional expert of China I foresee that in case of any Indian aggression the PAF would be front line of national defence in which patriotic spirits, unmatched human capital and last but not the least ever readiness of the PAF and armed forces of Pakistan would play a vital role.
—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics Member Board of Experts, CGSS.