After the delivery of the first batch of French Rafale fighter jets purchased by the Indian Air Force, the gap between IAF and PAF has been increased drastically.
Currently, Pakistan is not even close to the Indian air force, even looking around its hangar, there is no fighter jet that can deal with the IAF Rafale F3R.
The Rafale is a fourth and a half generation fighter jet, while the Pakistan Air Force’s main fighter, the US-made F-16 “Falcon” and the China-Pakistan joint development of the JF-17 can only be considered three and a half generations of fighter jets at most. While “Rafale” is killer.
In the past, Pakistan try to acquire F-16 fighter aircraft from the US, even last year Pakistan intend to buy second hand F-16 fighter but due to pressure from India and Pakistan actively working with terrorists US denied Pakistan to sell F-16 fighters. Now Pakistan has only one option left which is China’s J-10.
The J-10 is a light fighter of the Chinese Air Force, the first fourth-generation aircraft. Its latest improved J-10c can be regarded as a 4.5th generation fighter. The introduction of the J-10C by the Pakistan air force can be helpful in some cases. But still, J-10 can’t compete with Rafale, and PAF knows this very well, that’s why PAF not showing that much interest in J-10c even it’s cheaper than F-16.
However, contrary to everyone’s expectations, many Pakistan officials didn’t want to buy J-10, but continued to buy second-hand F16s all over the world, and asked the United States to help upgrade the existing F16 at all costs. This shows the quality of Chinese products even their closest allies are not interested in J-10, no wonder why China never get any order from foreign countries. Is the J-10c not as good as the old F16?
Pakistan has experienced three Indo-Pakistani wars since its independence. The army and navy were beaten very badly by Indians. Only the air force gave tough competition to India. The achievement is mainly due to the US-made fighter F-86 equipped by the Pakistan Air Force.
The excellent performance of the F-86 made Pakistan gradually form a preference for American fighters, so after the retirement of the F-86, the F-16 was introduced as the main fighter.
In the 1980s, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the two countries signed a large number of military agreements in order to counter the decision of the Soviet Union and the United States to support Pakistan. The highlight of which was the sale of F-16s by the United States to Pakistan. From 1981 to 1987, 40 F16A/B fighter jets settled in Pakistan. In 1988, 11 more were purchased, and another 60 were planned to be purchased in 1989, but the contract was unilaterally terminated because the United States tended to support India because of the end of the war in Afghanistan. In 2000, the United States delivered 14 more aircraft because of the need to win over Pakistan in the anti-terrorist war in Afghanistan. In 2006, Pakistan again imported 18 F-16C/Ds from the United States. So far, Pakistan has a total of 72 F16s. In 2016, 13 retired second-hand F16s were purchased from Jordan. Pakistan has lost a total of 9 aircraft over the years, and one with air battle with India.
Now let’s take a look at the comparison between F-16 and J-10 from the perspective of an Indian 🙂
The F-16 started service in 1978, and the J-10 started service in 2004. It is said that the later-issued J-10 should be more advanced, but the F-16 has been continuously upgraded over the years. The current F-16V The performance is better than the J-10c.
$30 million for F-16A/B, $33.8 million for F-16C/D, about $70 million for F-16V, about $40 million for J-10c, looks like F-16v is almost twice as expensive as J-10c, but Pakistan It’s much cheaper to buy second-hand F-16.
Pakistan has a complete logistics support system for American-made fighter jets. Buying second-hand F-16v basically does not require updating equipment and training personnel, and can be seamlessly connected. The introduction of J-10c requires the overturning of the existing system, which requires a huge amount of money and a long time.
The pilots of the Pakistan Air Force have been flying US-made aircraft since independence, and suddenly changed to fighter aircraft of different systems. Pilots need to re-familiarize themselves with the performance and operating technology of fighter aircraft, and modern air combat is no longer just a test of pilot technology and fighter aircraft. In comparison, if the fighter aircraft and the system do not match, there may be a short-term reduction in combat effectiveness or even a vacuum, which is unacceptable to the Pakistan Air Force, which is under pressure from the Indian Air Force at any time.
J-10 is a good light fighter but compared with F-16, it has many shortcomings: such as maneuverability, J-10 has canards and should have superior maneuverability, but due to the weak engine, F-16 is 2 tons lighter than itself, so the F16 has a larger thrust-to-weight ratio and better maneuverability. The F16 has a type-preserving fuel tank, and all 9 pylons can carry bombs, while the J-10 itself has only 7 hanging points, and there is no type-preserving fuel tank. The auxiliary fuel tank has to use 2 pylons, leaving only 5 pylons to carry bombs. The J-10c has just been replaced with a WS-10 engine, the stability is unknown, and the continued use of the Russian-made engine may be strangled by Russia, while the F-16 engine has stable performance and can be purchased in large quantities in the international market.
F-16 has been the king of light fighters in the world since its inception. It has fought countless air battles and won many battles. This undoubtedly gives the pilot a good psychological hint, and it is practical and superior, and can better exert its combat effectiveness. The J-10 has never participated in actual combat. Although the simulated air combat results are good, no pilot will take the simulation seriously. The competition in the air is to bet on life.
Air Force System Construction:
A large-scale air force generally needs to be equipped with at least two main fighters, usually a combination of light and heavy or high and low. For example, the F-16 and F-15 of the United States, the Mig-29 and Su-27 of Russia, Mirage 2000 and Su-30MKI of India and J-11 and J-10 of China. In this way, it can meet the needs of various tasks without wasting. Pakistan has always been unfamiliar with heavy-duty twin-engine fighters because of its narrow territory and poor economy, so it uses a combination of F-16 and JF-17 single-engine light fighters. If the J-10 will be introduced, it will be equivalent to having two high-end fighters. The J-10 cannot Replace the F-16 like the JF-17 replacing the Mig-21(J-7) series, which will cause system disorder and is not necessary.
The security of the national armament system:
Pakistan does not want its own armaments to be provided entirely by China. Referring to the fiasco of Argentina after France cut off the supply of “Exocet missile” in the Falklands War, and the lessons learned from China and the Soviet Union after the Soviet Union was completely mechanized in the early days of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, when the country did not have the strength to independently build a military-industrial system.
The need for diplomacy:
Arms trading is never just money and goods transactions, there are political implications behind it. Although the United States hates Pakistan for being disobedient but considering that the war on terrorism in Afghanistan is still unresolved, the strategy of containing China’s return to the Asia-Pacific is due to the ineffectiveness of East Asian countries. Therefore, it is rumored US may sell old F-16 to Pakistan so they can use Pakistan against China. If there is such a thing, everything is reasonable. Pakistan will get F-16 by spending a small amount of money, but also improve the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, killing two birds with one arrow.
To sum up, if Pakistan does not buy J-10c but second-hand F16 in the end, please understand that it is difficult for a small and poor country to spent huge money on the new fighter. But who knows, the arms trade is full of uncertainty, maybe PAF will choose J-10C over F-16 or they can direct buy J-31 fifth-generation fighter