IAF recently announced that it will start inducting 5th Generation
Indo-Russian stealth fighters also know as PAK-FA or the FGFA into its
inventory by 2018. This means IAF is the only Air force in the
Sub-continent which has concrete plans to go 5th Generation and also
probably in Asia. This news has sent jitters across the borders in
Pakistan and as of now they don't have a suitable answer for this.
PAF is past few years has painstakingly closed the technological and quantitative gap it has with its longstanding rival the IAF. PAF has ordered 8 new AWACS from Sweden and China, more F-16's from USA, BVR missiles, new SAM's, upgraded its existing fleet of F-16s, its waiting for J-10B's and ofcourse its crown jewel and supposedly indigenous JF-17 "Thunder". However all these fighters are still nowhere near IAF's Su-30MKI which is technologically far superior. Also IAF's Phalcon system is considered to be second to none. However the PAF's modernization drive has certainly given it a edge which IAF must be closely observing.
Talking about the future, PAF's has far less scope of improving than the IAF. IAF in next 15 years will induct two different types 5th generation fighters where as PAF will induct none. However many Pakistani will respond to my above sentence as absurd because they believe they will get the F-35 from US, J-XX from China and new 5th Generation version of JF-17 soon. I can't help but laugh at this claims because I have very strong notions that all this will not happen because of very obvious reasons.
First lets talk about the Americans, the F-35 JSF is facing delays which is not financially good for the project. It has ordered some 2500 units and many more by partner countries. This means the productions line will be very busy until 2025 atleast. Each F-35 will cost well above 150million $ through out its life which Pakistan is not having and with current states of affair it will not have for atleast 10-15years to come. USA is also talking about exit plans from Afghanistan which would mean that Pakistan would be of lesser importance. Plus it would be hard to justify gifting the F-35 as the Taliban doesn't have a radar and the F-35 won't add to PAF's capability to fight the militants. So for now its a no for the F-35.
Second comes the the Chinese J-XX project. Well this is PAF only hope and in my opinion this will be the Pakistan's fifth generation fighter however doubts over it still remain. China's J-10 fighter is already having trouble with 4 confirmed crashes of which two were in-service fighters. According to a article published on 8ak.com the aircraft hasn't turned out to be as planned and has some serious flaws. Also according to CIA reports China is not technologically advance enough to built a 5th Generation fighter on its own. This is no surprise because China to this day hasn't built anything on its own. Reverse engineering only gives knowledge to build copies of the original product and the Chinese are paying its price now. But they should be able to start testing a fifth generation fighter by 2025 by hook or crook.
Last and the most hilarious of them all is the 5th Gen version of their JF-17 fighter aircraft. This aircraft is barely 4th generation and for its time is very much technologically old. However it still is very decent fighter for the PAF. The only problem with it is that it could not be made stealthy because the current airframe is far from stealthy. Making JF-17 stealthy would mean completely redesigning the aircraft which in itself means building a entirely new aircraft which Pakistan is not capable of doing.
The above reasons should make any neutral minded person if not me to believe that PAF will not get a fifth generation fighter atleast till 2030. So IAF should be able to maintain air dominance over sub-continental skies which it has held since.