The deployment of the China-built J-10CE fighter jet will give a significant boost to the Pakistan Air Force's combat capability and diversify its operational portfolio, according to Chinese observers.
The Pakistan Air Force officially inducted its first batch of six J-10CE fighter jets at a ceremony on Friday at its Minhas Airbase in Kamra, Punjab, which was attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan and senior government officials and military commanders.
In his speech at the ceremony, Khan congratulated his nation on the historic occasion of the induction of the J-10CEs, saying that a country cannot remain free and independent unless it is able to defend itself.
The Chinese-built planes, dubbed "dragon from the East" by the PAF, will play an important role in rectifying a "security imbalance "in the region, he said.
The acquisition contract for the fighter jets was signed in June. Delivery of the first planes was completed in just eight months at unprecedented speed, a PAF announcer said at the ceremony.
He said the J-10CE program is a symbol of the brotherhood, unity and trust of the two countries and the prompt delivery was a testament to the special relationship between the two countries.
"It is indeed a historic and proud moment for the entire Pakistani nation," the announcer said. "The aircraft are fully loaded (with weapons), which gives a clear and loud message about the operational preparedness of the Pakistan Air Force."
Wang Yanan, editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said: "The J-10CE is an export variant of the J-10C, one of the best light-duty, multirole combat planes in the world and also one of the People's Liberation Army Air Force's most powerful pieces of hardware. With its service, the Pakistan Air Force will be able to effectively counter new threats and challenges in future aerial combat and will have a much stronger defense capability.
"The plane is able to fire missiles from beyond visual range. Together with its long flight range, the jet will substantially extend the PAF's operational radius and give it more time to handle suspected intrusions. Moreover, the J-10CE can carry out precision strikes against land targets, offering its user more options when planning military operations."
A defense industry observer who wished to be identified as Cui said the J-10CE is equipped with China's domestically developed WS-10B engine, which has proved to be an advanced, reliable motor. It has cutting-edge avionics and control systems as well as an active electronically scanned array radar, the best aircraft radar ever used by the PAF, he said.
Another attraction is that the aircraft is armed with the PL-10E short-range missile and the PL-15E long-range missile, the most powerful Chinese air-to-air weapons available on the international market, Cui said.
"They have almost the same technologies and capabilities as missiles used by the PLA Air Force for its own fighter jets," Cui said. "The PL-15E is an export version of the PL-15, which is likely to be used on China's J-20 stealth fighter jet. It can hit its targets from beyond visual range and is suitable for eliminating the enemy's high-value assets such as aerial-refueling or early-warning planes."
Designed and manufactured by Aviation Industry Corp of China, the J-10CE is an all-weather, multirole, fourth-plus-generation fighter jet. It can attack multiple targets from beyond visual range under complex electromagnetic environments, and can deliver precision strikes on ground targets with multiple guided munitions, according to AVIC.
The delivery of the J-10CEs marked a new chapter in cooperation on military aircraft between China and Pakistan and is expected to help to deepen their all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, AVIC said, adding the deal was a milestone in China's efforts to sell its high-end military aircraft.