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SOURCE: Rajesh Kumar/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG


Pakistani establishment off late has been actively pursuing Russian Government to allow them to procure unspecified numbers of Su-35 ‘Flanker-E’ multi-role fighter aircraft after Islamabad failed to procure additional F-16s from the United States.

Pakistani air force at present is made of four different types of fighter aircraft and fly’s Vintage Dassault Mirage-5s, Chinese-manufactured F-7s, Lockheed Martin F-16s and Chinese JF-17 Thunder which they license assembled in Pakistan and is powered by a Russian supplied Klimov RD-93 Afterburning Turbofan engine.

PAF in its History has never operated Soviet-Russian make of fighter aircraft but in past has operated Shenyang J-6 which is the Chinese-built version of the Soviet MiG-19 ‘Farmer’ fighter aircraft and present operates Chengdu J-7 which is a license-built version of the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21.

In Past due to India growing relations with the United States. Russia finally showed the willingness to sell advanced hardware with Pakistan despite Moscow’s longstanding ties with India which lead to Mi-17-1 and Mi-35M deals with Pakistan. Pakistan now wants to up defense cooperation and procure fighter aircraft directly from Russia. Whats interesting is that Pakistan has shown no interest in procurement of unlicensed copies of Sukhoi fighter aircraft which China already manufactures presently for its air force.

Shenyang J-11 copy of Sukhoi Su-27, Shenyang J-16 copy of Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKK and Shenyang J-15 unlicensed Chinese development of the Russian Su-33 Flanker-D all have been evaluated by Pakistani air force pilots under the various pilot exchange program between the two countries and buzz for years now has been that Pakistanis were not exactly happy with their sub-par performance and instead where asking Chinese to clear export of J-10 fighter aircraft which Chinese government has barred from exports.

Unlicensed Chinese development of Sukhoi Su-27,30 and 33 initially was seen as a Game changer by the western defense analysts who thought that this new 4.5 generation aircraft will come as an additional force multiplier to the Chinese air force but over the years Chinese media locally were critical of this aircrafts and now even the government of China is more or less convinced that reversed engineered copies are plan disasters and instead is shifting focus back on local fighter programs.

Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark which is a new carrier-based fighter aircraft already has suffered a number of high-profile crashes due to technical issues with the aircraft’s engines and flight control system. indigenous Shenyang Liming WS-10H engines too have serious reliability issues that Chinese pilots prefer Russian Salyut AL-31F engines over their copies which probably is one reason why China still continues to buy them from Russia even after claiming it to be a total success of their copies years ago.

J-11 and J-15 design too suffer from serious design flaws due to traditional limitations inherent to reverse engineering methodology. In the Initial phase, aircraft looks and feels just like the original but when pushed into regular service that’s when issues start cropping up mechanically which are difficult to fix when you just copied it from some other aircraft without going through in-depth design data collections.

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