India took around five years to decide the best bidder as a mainstay aircraft for its air force. During these years, IAF conducted flight trial of Mig-35, F-16, F-18, JAS-39, Eurofighter and Rafale on different locations in India. The purpose was to look out for the lowest bidder and the most favourable combat aircraft, which will replace the aging Mig-21 fleet. As India moved forward in search for MMRCA platform, Pakistan aimed to counter India’s plans by reassessing its military doctrines of airpower and assessed the shortcomings.
India’s conventional arms build-up threatens Pakistan. The MMRCA deal is especially threatening for Pakistan because it augments India’s air power and worsens the conventional arms asymmetry between the two arch-rivals. To counter India’s increasing air power, PAF has followed a multi-pronged strategy which involves: replacing aging fleet of fighter aircraft; modernizing its existing fleet; procurement of force multipliers like Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems and Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft; induction of F-16C/D Block52 aircraft; and, rapid indigenous production of JF-17 Thunder. The procurement of FC-20/J-10B Multirole combat aircraft from China is a long term solution to IAF’s increasing airpower. Meanwhile, PAF is also enhancing skills of its pilots and aircrew by regularly participating in national and multinational exercises.