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Pakistan Air Force to Employ Chinese FC-31 Fighter Jets ‘In Near Future’

Pakistan has announced it will integrate the FC-31 Gyrfalcon fifth-generation stealth fighter developed by China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation into its air force “in the near future.”

The framework agreement was announced by Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu during an induction ceremony of new military capabilities on January 2.

Articles presented during the event included Beijing-made J-10C firebird jets and business-class planes.

Details on the FC-31 procurement’s quantity and corresponding timelines were not disclosed by Sidhu and the Pakistan Air Force.

The air force also did not respond to questions on the Gyrfalcon initiative’s impact on Islamabad’s intent to obtain the Turkish-made Kaan fifth-gen fighter, according to a Defense News report.

“The impact of a J-31/FC-31 acquisition by Pakistan is difficult to predict at this stage because the capabilities and time frames for delivery are so vaguely understood,” aerospace specialist Justin Bronk of London’s Royal United Services Institute explained in an interview with the outlet.

Meanwhile, defense analyst and ex-Pakistan Air Force pilot Kaiser Tufail told Defense News the downside of Islamabad’s Gyrfalcon procurement.

“Firstly, induction of too many types of fighters is not helpful from the training and maintenance aspects,” Tufail said. “Secondly, the country’s economic scenario is rather grim, and spending needs to be curtailed drastically.”

“The need for stealthy platforms can be met by [unmanned aerial vehicles], which are excellent platforms for tactical support operations over the battlefield.”

Pakistan-Turkey Fifth-Gen Aircraft Program

In 2022, state-owned Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and its Ankara counterpart, Turkish Aerospace Industries, announced the joint development of their own future aircraft.

This effort is expected to create the TF-X fifth-generation jet to replace both countries’ existing Lockheed Martin platforms.

The program aligned with Pakistan’s objectives to employ a fifth-generation fleet by 2047. Turkish Aerospace Industries said that the schedule to build a TF-X prototype is set for 2023, followed by a maiden flight in 2026.

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