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Pakistan’s future fighter jet procurement plans remain shrouded in some mystery. While initial reports suggested interest in joining Turkey’s TF-X (KAAN) program, recent developments point towards a potential shift in focus.

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Chief’s recent confirmation of interest in the Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter upon its completion casts doubt on their commitment to the KAAN program. While details are scarce, it appears the PAF may be prioritizing the FC-31.

Defence analyst, Ranesh Rajan told that he believes Pakistan’s financial constraints might be a key factor in this decision. The Chief Executive Officer of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) estimated the per-unit price of the KAAN at $100 million upon production, exceeding even the estimated cost of US-made F-35 variants. Previously, Pakistan struggled to afford F-16 Block-52 jets, indicating a potential challenge in acquiring the KAAN.

Pakistan Air Force leadership has confirmed plans to procure the Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter jet once it becomes operational. Rajan predicts this acquisition won’t occur before 2030, aligning with the expected mass production timeline of the FC-31. Furthermore, reports suggest Pakistan’s interest lies in the carrier-based variant of the FC-31, catering to the needs of the Chinese Navy rather than the Air Force.

The Indian Air Force reportedly assesses that Pakistan’s FC-31 acquisition is unlikely before 2030. This aligns with the projected completion of the FC-31’s development and trials in China.

Pakistan recently acquired 25 J-10CE fighter jets from China at a high-interest rate. Analysts anticipate a potential follow-up purchase of 50 more J-10CEs in the future. This strategy leverages Pakistan’s existing infrastructure established to support the J-10CE, minimizing additional logistical complexities.

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