According to a Senior ranked Pakistani air force (PAF) official, who in a recent interview to the local media has claimed that PAF will move to all 5th Gen and beyond fighter jet types by 2047 and plans to retire all the older 4th generation fighter jets with a locally developed 5th generation fighter jet under its next-generation fighter aircraft (NGFA) program under Project AZM.

It’s still not clear what is the status of the NGFA under Project AZM but according to the Pakistani defense portal,” Quwa Defence News and Analysis Group” preliminary designs are ongoing still, and PAF is yet to finalize the design. PAF claims that the 5th generation aircraft will be locally designed and manufactured but it is still not clear if it will involve Chinese technologies.

PAF initially had claimed that the prototype of the NGFA will make its first flight by 2028 but according to a report of Quwa, it is unlikely it will happen by 2028 since even the design work is still ongoing. Project AZM was started in 2017 and even in 2021, it has not been able to finalize its design. Project AZM seems to lean towards the idea of a twin-engine fighter with super-cruising capabilities. PAF plans to use the Integration of an off-the-shelf solution for the Project AZM but PAF doesn’t operate any 5th generation aircraft to start with, so it is unclear which off-the-shelf solution they’re talking about.

Many in Pakistan have questioned the ability of Pakistan to develop a 5th generation fighter jet in the country when its premier aircraft production agency which is Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has only been able to manufacture locally Chinese JF-17 since its inception while still most of the critical aspects of the design and flight certification of the jet were carried out in China and development of latest Block-III is also continued to be carried out in China.

While the major chunk of the PAF’s fighter fleet that includes 200 F-7, Mirage-III/V are due for retirements in the next 5-10 years, around 70+ F-16 will continue to be operated till 2040 n beyond. PAF already has inducted 150 JF-17 in the last decade and still plans to induct around 100 more in the next 5 years. It seems like PAF plans to go for one or two types of 5th generation fighter jets to achieve its goal by 2047. Chances are that one of the types will be a Chinese J-31 fighter jet and the NGFA will be built possibly with local and some Turkish technology.

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