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How China Keeps the PAF Flying: An Update

 

Note No. 120

by B.Raman

It is learnt that Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, Pakistan's new Chief of the Air Staff, is to visit China for 10 days from February 21 for talks on further Chinese assistance to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

During the visit, he is expected to finalise an agreement for the purchase of about 40 F-7 MG interceptors/ fighters and to sort out pending details for the much-delayed joint production of the Super 7-FC-1 fighter by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra, and the Chengdu Aircraft Company (CAC).

It is said that at least 40 F7MGs, which have already been test-flown by PAF pilots, are ready to be delivered to Pakistan.  They would be equipped with the Italian Grifo-M radar, modified to meet the restricted space requirement in the F-7 nose, enhanced fire power and a missile-carrying capability.

The Super 7-FC-1, being jointly produced, would be a single engine, single seat multi-role fighter, developed from the Super 7 programme, by the CAC and would be fitted with weapon stations, patterned after the US F-16s received by the PAF from the US before the Pressler Amendment came into force in October,1990, one of which was clandestinely transferred by the PAF to China for reverse engineering purposes.  The engine would be a Russian RD-95 , a reportedly improved version of the Klimov RD-33 fitted to the MiG-29.  It is reported that the first few aircraft would be delivered by China in a ready-to-fly condition and, thereafter, the components would be flown from China and assembled at Kamra.

The PAF was to specify the radar, avionics and weapons to be fitted in the aircraft. The choice was between GEC-Marconi and the Italian FIAR.  Short and long-range missiles plus a 23 mm gun are to be fitted to the aircraft.  Pakistan claims that the missiles to be fitted would be of indigenous Pakistani design and manufacture and not China's.

Meanwhile, the PAF is expected to receive its last batch of upgraded Mirages from France later this month.

The PAF is planning to hold a big function on March 10 to observe the completion of the 500th overhauling of an F6 aircraft by PAC Kamra.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: corde@vsnl.com )

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