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Pakistan-China Defence Cooperation

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


Sino-Pak defence cooperation has an overarching strategic dimension which was even incorporated in the joint statement titled “Deepening China-Pakistan Strategic and Economic Cooperation” issued on the state visit of President Mamnoon Hussain (Feb 18-21). China being strategic partner appreciated Pakistan’s consistent and staunch support on issues relating to China’s core interests.

“China lauds the sacrifices rendered by the Pakistanis in fighting the global scourge of terrorism,” the statement said, adding that Pakistan reiterated its support for China’s efforts in combating terrorism, extremism and separatism.

Most recently, Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan visited Pakistan and met Khawaja Asif, federal defence minister, Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and the President Mamnoon Hussain. Both the countries have bilateral cooperation in the fields of military and security that has already strengthened in the light of the “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good Neighbourly Relations”.

Meeting with Pakistan’s Defence Minister


During the meeting minister for Defence, Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that Pakistan and China enjoy deep-rooted, brotherly relations and Pakistan’s friendship with China was a cornerstone of its foreign policy. He said, “We have unique ties with China which are unparalleled in contemporary era and interstate relations”. He said that China-Pakistan defence cooperation was a factor of peace and stability in the region.

Crucial Factor for Regional Peace


“Our mutually supportive cooperation in the field of defence is a critical factor in maintenance of peace and stability in the region” he added. Sino-Pakistan have different forums of interactions and bilateral mechanisms like strategic dialogue, consular consultations and counter-terrorism consultations to further the strategic partnership, he said.

The Chinese side expressed the hope to further enhance the cooperation in all areas of importance to both countries.

Pakistan extends its supports on China’s Core Issues

The Defence Minister said that “Pakistan supports one China Policy on issues of Taiwan, Tibet, Xingiang and Human Rights”. The Minister highlighted the importance of China-Pakistan corridor which would transform the regional, economy and dovetail perfectly with the strategy of developing and connecting the South and Central Asian regions of the world.

China-Pakistan mutually Supportive Cooperation

The Chinese Defence Minister said that China-Pakistan mutually supportive cooperation in the field of defence, was a critical factor in maintenance of peace and stability in the region. “Our cooperation has an over-arching strategic dimension”, he added.

Pakistan and Chinese defence delegations also held a session of talks where matters of defence production and Chinese help in achieving self-reliance in defence production were broadly discussed. Matters of Maritime Cooperation, Joint-Exercises, Defence and Security Talks were also broadly discussed.

Defence Exhibition IDEAS-2014

The Minister thanked his Chinese counterpart for continued support and understanding and expressed the hope that China would once again feature in Pakistan’s main defence exhibition IDEAS-2014, scheduled to be held this year.

Visit to General Headquarters


The Chinese defence minister also visited the General Headquarters where he was received by Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif. Following a one-to-one meeting between Mr Chang and Gen Sharif, delegation-level bilateral talks were held. Issues of mutual interest, regional security and measures to enhance bilateral defence collaboration were discussed during the meeting.

China and Pakistan’s National Security and Territorial Integrity

Chinese Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan was called on at the PM House. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan deeply values China’s support on issues of Pakistan’s national security and territorial integrity.

Strategic Importance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

“China-Pakistan economic corridor would not only benefit both nations, but also transform the region’s economy and dovetail perfectly with the strategy of developing and connecting the south and central Asian regions of the world,”

The PM said that security of Chinese nationals is an utmost priority for Pakistan and the government has taken all possible steps to provide them security. The PM also expressed his confidence that Pakistan-China cooperation, including in the field of defence, will continue to grow to the benefit of both the countries. Later, Chinese Defence Minister reiterated his government’s support for Pakistan.

Award of Hilal-e-Pakistan


The President conferred the award of Hilal-e-Pakistan on visiting Chinese National Defence Minister and State Councillor General Chang Wanquan in recognition of his role and meritorious services for further promoting the already existing close bonds of friendship especially defence cooperation between Pakistan and China.

The ceremony was attended among others by Vice Admiral Du Jingehen, Chief of Staff of the Navy, Maj Gen Liu Lei, Political Commissioner of Xingiang Military Region, Maj Gen Song Dan, Dy DG of Gen Office of the Central Military Commission, Sun Weidong, Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan, high officials of the Chinese embassy and members of the delegation of the Chinese defence minister.

Meeting with President

Later the Chinese Defence Minister, General Chang Wanquan along with his delegation called on the President and discussed bilateral relations particularly defence cooperation and other matters of mutual interest.

Discussing bilateral ties, the President said that the time- tested friendship between Pakistan and China was solidly anchored on convergence of strategic interests, commonality of views on regional and international issues, high degree of mutual trust and are driven by an abiding interest in progress and prosperity of each other as well as promotion of peace and stability in the region.

Expressing satisfaction on the growing Pak-China defence relations, the President said that Pakistan appreciates the valuable assistance of China in our efforts to achieve self-reliance in defence field. General Chang Wanquan thanked the President and government of Pakistan for decorating him with the award of Hilal-e-Pakistan and said that strategic partnership between China and Pakistan would continue to further deepen with each passing day.

Pak-China Defence Cooperation

Pakistan and China enjoy a time-tested friendship that has stood the vicissitudes of international changes since the last many decades. Pak-China defence cooperation is ‘multi-faceted and multidimensional. It is a vital component of bonds of friendship between the two countries.

Pakistan-China military relations are characterised by joint defence production and development. The two countries agreed to further enhance military to military cooperation and collaboration between the defence industries in 2002.

JF-17 Thunder Aircraft

aTwo Seat JF-17 Thunder FC-1 Xiaolong Fighter Jet Trainer PAKISTAN AIR FORCE PAF BVR PL-12 SD-10A B C D E PL-10 ASR WVRAAM C-802 RAAD MAR-1 H-2 H-4 LD-6 LT-2 FT-123456 CK-400AKG (5)

China has so far been the strength for the Pakistan defence industry. It continues its support in the modernisation plans of Pakistan’s armed forces. The JF-17 Thunder aircraft truly reflects the strategic nature of defence relations between the two countries. With its advanced design and state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, the JF-17 has the combat capability of a fourth generation fighter plane and is on a par with the world’s most advanced light fighter jets.

Rollout Ceremony of 50th JF-17 Thunder Aircraft


Pakistan Aeronautical Complex formally handed over the 50th JF-17 Thunder aircraft to Pakistan Air Force in December, 2013 at Aircraft Manufacturing Factory PAC Kamra. The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Said that JF-17 aircraft development and production is a major flag bearer in our journey towards self-reliance and industrialization and adds a glorious chapter in the history of Pakistan’s friendship with People’s Republic of China. During the ceremony, Pakistan and China also signed an agreement to establish a joint sales and marketing team for JF-17 Thunder. The products of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex were also shown to the Prime Minister and guests during a static display after the ceremony.

Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, while speaking on the occasion, highlighted the importance of JF-17 aircraft for PAF.

He said that the aircraft had been designed to fulfill PAF’s operational needs and its induction would help PAF to replace its aging fleet of fighter aircraft.

The Air Chief highlighted that there was close cooperation between the aviation industries of china and PAC and the JF-17 project was the strongest link in this context.



(a) Multi-Role & Light Combat Aircraft

It is a multi-role, light combat aircraft that is equipped with a digital fly-by-wire flight control system that gives it the agility and lethality. It has a complete glass cockpit, excellent man-machine interface and modern self-protection suite, which enhance combat potential and survivability of the aircraft.

(b) 4th Generation Avionics Systems

It is equipped with fourth generation avionics systems, wide range of conventional & smart weapons, long range glide bombs, Beyond Visual Range & short range Air-to-Air missiles, Anti-Ship missile and Air-to-Surface missiles. The aircraft requires remarkably short lengths of runway for take-off & landing, which offers flexibility of aircraft operations at short air strips.

(c) Lightweight Combat Jet

It is a lightweight combat jet, fitted with turbofan engine, advanced flight control, and the most advanced weapons delivery system. As a supersonic plane, its speed is 1.6 times the speed of its sound, and its ability to refuel midair makes it a stand-out. It is hoped that JF-17s would help replace the existing fleet of the PAF comprising F-7s, A-5s and all Mirage aircraft. Eventually, Pakistan will have 350 JF-17s that will completely replace its ageing fleet.

Jointly Co-developed

The JF-17 Thunder jointly co-developed by PAF & China Aero-technology Import Export Corporation (CATIC), and co-produced by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and CATIC.

Strategic Project

The developmental work of the J-17 Thunder was commenced in year-1999. Detailed design of the JF-17 aircraft was finalized in 2001; its development from the drawing-board to the maiden fight of the first prototype was achieved within a short span.

In April 2005, PAC formally opened its JF-17 production facility at Kamra factory and the first four locally built aircraft were handed over to the PAF in December 2006. After flight testing, a small batch of 8 aircraft was produced in year 2007 and finally serial co-production of the aircraft at PAC Kamra was started in Pakistan in Year 2009.

The JF-17 is being produced in blocks of 50 aircraft each where every succeeding block would be an upgraded version of the preceding block. Therefore, Block-ll JF-17s will have improved versions of avionics sub-systems, air-to-air re-fuelling capability, additional weapons carriage capability, optimized maintenance facilitation and some additional operational capabilities.

Production of Avionics for the JF-17 Thunder

The government of Pakistan has already launched the production of avionics for the JF-17 Thunder at PAC Kamra. The country also plans to broaden the scope to include the production of complete JF-17 avionics suite at PAC. It has established generic production and testing facilities at Kamra Avionics and Radar Factory. The PAF has a fleet of Chinese aircraft including F-7PGs and A-5s.

Chinese Radar Systems

In order to further strengthening of defence cooperation, Pakistan decided to buy Chinese radar systems and SD-10 (ShanDian-10) mid-range homing missiles to equip its 250 JF-17 fighters in 2010. The SD-10 is a radar-guided air-to-air missile developed by China in 2002.

Fighter China 1 (FC-1)

Pakistan airforce FC-1 Xiao Long AKA JF-17 Thunder.

Chengdu Aircraft Industry, China’s second-largest fighter producer, has been cooperating with Pakistan’s Aviation Integrated Company in the development of the Fighter China 1. It is a lightweight multipurpose fighter based on the design for the MiG-33 and powered by a single Klimov RD-93 turbofan. It is capable of beyond-visual-range air-to-air combat, as well as laser guided weapons delivery.

Remarkable Military Deals (last ten years)

China-Pakistan military relations spanned 48 years, starting in 1966 when China provided Pakistan with F-6s, which were followed by the successive supply of such aircraft as FT5, A5, F-7P, F-7PG and K-8.

Different Components of Pakistan’s Defence Specifications
Navy F-22P frigate
Air Force Awacs aircraft
Air Force JF-17 Thunder and FC-20 aircraft

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) also plans to buy new Chinese made J-10 fighters in large number. It is hoped that the acquisition of Chinese airborne warning and control system (Awacs) aircraft will further strengthen the capability of the PAF.

Naval Shipbuilding Technology


Emerging geo-political and geo-strategic scenarios in the region and around the globe values the importance of a potent and effective navy. It protects shores of uncertainties and maritime economy. It encourages blue economy and merchant navy too. It safeguards deep waters sovereignty against piracy and any kind of human trafficking. It achieves regional naval power equilibrium.

China also agreed to further strengthen defence ties by transferring naval shipbuilding technology to Pakistan in 2005. China transferred the technology to Pakistan for manufacturing F22P Frigate, which can operate in multi-threat environments and has long-range surface-to-surface missiles that can attack multiple targets simultaneously.

In January 2008, China launched the project for manufacturing the first F-22P frigate for the Pakistan Navy at its Hudong shipyard in Shanghai. Under the deal, while three of the four ships will be built in China, the construction of a fourth will complete at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works by the end of this year.


Naval Cooperation Details
First F-22 frigate It was delivered to Pakistan in 2008. It was formally commissioned in the Pakistan Navy fleet in September.
Specifications It is equipped with long-range surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) and surface-to-air missiles (SAM), depth charges, torpedoes, the latest 76mm guns, a close-in-weapons system (CIWS), sensors, electronic warfare and an advanced command and control system. The ship has a displacement of 3,000 tons and carries anti-submarine Z9EC helicopters.

J-10 Aircrafts


China has also agreed to the sale of 36 J-10B fighter jets to Pakistan. The J-10 aircrafts are known to be one of the most advanced weapon systems in China’s arsenal. With the delivery of 36 fighter jets, the PAF will raise two fighting squadrons that will further sharpen its combativeness. Pakistan turned to China for these aircraft in 2006 after it failed to secure the F-16s from the United States. The J-10s are China’s fourth generation fighter aircraft. It has digenously developed and manufactured at the Chengdu Aircraft Industry (CAI).

Concluding Remarks

Diversification in Pak-China Defence cooperation is the need of the hour. Joint defense production and technology transfer would be the way forward in the days to come. JF-17s combat aircraft, F-22P Frigates and J-10s are the cornerstone of Pak-China defence cooperation. Moreover, extended defence cooperation balances the regional supremacy of other power brokers. Extend military cooperation; professional training and joint exercises would further strengthen the Sino-Pak defence cooperation.

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