Pakistan, Chinese Air Forces Start Joint Exercise Amid Rising Conflict With India

Chinese and Pakistani Air Forces have commenced joint training programs in northwest China according to Chinese air force sources.  The joint training, code-named “Shaheen (eagle) VIII,” is the eighth of its kind between the two countries since it was first launched in March 2011. 

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The annual joint training does not target any third party, and aims to improve training standards of the two air forces through mutual learning, the sources said.

The PLAAF and PAF have held regular drills since March 2011 with the first Shaheen exercise held in Pakistan. The second training exercise took place in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in western China in September 2013, the third was held in Punjab, Pakistan in May 2014.

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Last year, the joint training between the air forces was held in Pakistan which was participated by a contingent of the Chinese air force, comprising combat pilots, air defence controllers, and technical ground crew along with fighter jets, bombers and early warning AWACS planes.

The Pakistan Air Force heavily relies on its fleet of around 70 U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in its anti-terrorist operations in Pakistan and counter-balance to Indian rapidly increasingly fleet of modern fighter jets. Whether any F-16 aircraft will participate in the training exercise is unknown