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China’s J-10B Advanced Fighters To Pakistan Worries India

The recent official offer of the Chinese to raise a squadron of its
home-grown advanced multi-role, all-weather fighter aircraft J-10B to
Pakistan has worried Indian defence experts. Pakistan will be the only
other country apart from China to have this sophisticated fighter
aircraft.

Air Commodore (Retd) Jasjit Singh, director, New Delhi-based Centre for
Air Power Studies (CAPS), told DNA: “India now not only faces the
possibility of a two-front war but has to also deal with a two-front
military modernisation programme with China supplying its latest
weaponry to Pakistan.”

He said India faces a 10-year window of vulnerability as the Indian Air
Force’s (IAF’s) present squadron of 34 is way below the sanctioned
strength of 39 squadrons. “It will take 10 years for the IAF to get back
to its sanctioned strength of 39 squadrons. While Pakistan at present,
with 24 squadrons, is raising its strength rapidly with China’s
support,” said Singh, who is also the former director of Institute for
Defence Studies and Analysis.

Former Vice Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal PK Barbora, however, said
China’s offering Pakistan a squadron of the J-10s may not threaten
India’s air superiority. “China does not have a great record of
producing a world-class aircraft. All they do is reverse engineer and
manufacture aircraft. Secondly, by raising just one squadron Pakistan
may not benefit much,” he said.

However, Pakistani media reports indicate that it is looking at raising
two squadrons of the fourth generation aircraft to counter India’s Light
Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, which is still under development. Besides,
according to US military and defence technology news website, Defense
Update, the Chinese designed Joint Fighter (JF)-17 (commonly known as
‘Thunder’) is already under production in Pakistan and is actively being
promoted for export in the world market.

Despite his optimism, Air Marshal Barbora warned that the slow pace of
India’s defence indigenisation (read LCA Tejas, in particular) is a
cause for worry. “We will be adding 300 more Su-30 MKIs; getting 126
medium multi role combat aircraft; and upgrading the Mirage 2000s,
Jaguars and the MiG-29s. The same cannot be said of some pathetic status
of indigenous programmes like the Light Combat Aircraft, which has been
delayed for years now,” he says.

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