The Pakistan Air Force flaunted its Chinese and Turkish weapons marking the 147th birth anniversary of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the South Asian nation popularly known as the Quaid-E-Azam.
To honor Quaid’s life, political battles, and important role in the formation of Pakistan, official ceremonies and festivities have been organized around the nation. One major highlight of the ceremony was the exhibit of advanced combat Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that Islamabad has purchased from its key ally, Turkey.
As part of the nationwide commemoration, a two-and-a-half-minute documentary titled “Pakistan Air Force on the Path to Modernization” aired on December 24. Focused on highlighting the capability and modernization of its air power, the video featured the JF-17 Block III and J-10C military jets, which were introduced to the force’s inventory this year, along with Akıncı and the Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).
The JF-17 fighter jet has been jointly developed by China and Pakistan as part of their long-term military cooperation. Recently inducted into service, the Block III version of the aircraft provides “superior maneuverability, extended range, and enhanced combat capabilities,” according to a previous statement by the Pakistani Air Force.
In contrast, the J-10C fighter jet was purchased from China and inducted in March last year. In addition to the JF-17 and the F-16 Fighting Falcons, the J-10C serves as the workhorse of the Pakistani Air Force.
If military commentators are to be believed, Pakistan’s acquisition of the J-10C was an attempt to counterbalance the dominance of Indian Rafale in the region.
Remembering the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, on his birth anniversary. His remarkable leadership and vision remain a guiding light for Pakistan. Let's uphold his ideals of unity, faith, and discipline as we strive for a better tomorrow. #QuaidDay pic.twitter.com/TebuGGZT6N
— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) December 25, 2023
While Pakistan’s proximity with China is barely hidden, it has been steadily bolstering military ties with Turkey, which it considers a natural ally by being an Islamic country.
The Pakistan Air Force said in a statement, “The video highlights the fact that Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah illuminated the oppressed Muslims of the subcontinent with a ray of hope and united them as one nation to achieve a separate and independent homeland for them. It is because of Quaid’s tireless efforts that we are breathing in a free state today.”
No matter how tough siutation remains!!! Pakistan Air Force has always stood high due its sheer professionalism and focused approach to become a hard hitting force!
Presenting you latest glimpes of PAF's J-10C, JF-17C, F-16C, Akinic, WL-II and many other latest smart inductions! pic.twitter.com/EH0yEMBqBm
— Air Operations Syndicate (@AirOpsSyndicate) December 25, 2023
The development came months after Pakistan’s defense production secretary, Humayun Aziz, said that the country and Turkey “will consolidate their work and look ahead” to new domains, such as sophisticated fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles.
According to Aziz, Turkey and Pakistan are also collaborating on military initiatives, including small guns and other things. He further explained that “Turkey and Pakistan are also collaborating on small arms and other military projects.”
The Pakistan Air Force documentary featured its new inductions, including Akıncı and Bayraktar TB2, in addition to a family of indigenous loitering munitions, new ultra-long beyond visual range air-to-air missiles, and a wide range of new surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), precision-guided munition (PGMs), and more, according to Stratcom Bureau, a defense-related social media platform based in Pakistan.
Turkey’s Drone For Pakistan
For decades, China has been Pakistan’s most important strategic benefactor, assisting Islamabad in developing fighter jets, missiles, warships, tanks, and submarines. However, Pakistan has simultaneously continued to woo the Turkish arms industry in recent years.
Turkey and Pakistan signed a formal agreement to boost defense cooperation by undertaking joint arms manufacturing in 2021. Turkey has developed Ada class corvettes for Pakistan under the MILGEM project and agreed to upgrade its Agosta-90B submarines. Further, it is also arming Pakistan with deadly torpedo countermeasure systems.
So, with the exceptional combat performance shown by Turkish UAVs in recent times, Pakistan has emerged as a loyal customer of Turkey’s Bayraktar drones. It started acquiring the Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey last year to add them to its air defense network.
Although the drones have been instrumental in conflicts like Ukraine, as seen recently, it has reportedly been procured for carrying out ISR operations by Pakistan.
The Bayraktar TB2 is an unmanned combat aerial vehicle with a medium altitude and long endurance that can be remotely controlled. Bayraktar’s impressive performance over one of the world’s most powerful armies – Russia, has captured the world’s imagination.
Earlier, during an Air Force exercise in late September, Pakistan had flaunted its Bayraktar TB2 drones, medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs.
After the incredible performance of TB2, Pakistan made another big move to buy the Turkish Akinci drone and became the first-ever overseas customer of the UAV. The training on these drones had reportedly concluded in October last year.
The Akinci, which translates to “Raider” in Turkish, is a high-altitude, long-endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) created as a replacement for Turkey’s current primary tactical UAV, the TB2 Bayraktar. It is capable of executing air-to-ground and air-to-air attack operations.
Pakistan buying the first batch of Bayraktar Akinci combat drones from Turkey has expectedly raised a red flag in the Indian intelligence system.
The Turkish combat drone is a strategic class platform that can carry various payloads. As per the company’s claim, the Akinci is “capable of conducting operations that are performed with fighter jets.”
“Bayraktar Akinci is equipped with dual artificial intelligence avionics which supports signal processing, sensor fusion, and situational awareness in real-time. It carries electronic support systems, dual satellite communication systems, air-to-air radar, collision avoidance radar, and synthetic aperture radar,” reads the specifications of Akinci drones by the Turkish company.
Not just drones, Pakistan is buying much more from Turkey. There have been reports that Islamabad would also participate in the development of a fifth-generation fighter jet with Ankara-in this case, Khan or TF(X), which is currently under development in the country.
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