FC-31 / J-31 / F-60? Stealth Fighter
India is much larger than Pakistan, in terms of geographic arae, population, and econmy. In the face Indian quantitative conventional superiority, the Pakistan Army is developing an extensive battlefield nuclear weapons posture as an asymetric response on the ground. In the air, Pakistan must turn to stealth.
The Pakistan Air Force had traditionally been the "quality" air force while the Indian Air Force has been the numerically superior "quantity" air force. But with the passage of time, it was believed that the Indian Air Force had surpassed its Pakistani counterpart both qualitatively and quantitatively.
India had procured large numbers of advanced fighters in the enw century, including hundreds of thrust-vectoring Su-30MKIs and dozens of carrier-capable MiG-29Ks. Additionally, many older Indian fighters have been substantially upgraded with new avionics and cutting edge jamming systems. India has its own JF-17 equivalent, the 'Tejas" light combat aircraft. The stealthy Russian-Indian PGFA fighter program is based on Russia's 5th generation stealthy fighter design, the Sukhoi T-50.
The FC-31 stealth fighter jet reportedly matches a strong need for fifth generation fighters by the Pakistan Air Force, which is already struggling to find an aircraft to go up against the Russian-made T-50 fifth-generation fighter being acquired by India. The twin-engine FC-31 fighter jet resembles the American Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) showed interest in buying fourth generation stealth fighter aircraft FC-31 from China. Janes reported 12 November 2014 that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was in talks with China to buy 30 to 40 of the Shenyang FC-31 twin-engined stealth fighter displayed at Airshow China 2014 in Zhuhai. Pakistani Defence Production minister Rana Tanveer Hussain said in late November 2014 that the matter was being discussed with Chinese authorities. According to Dawn, it was for the first time that a senior government functionary had confirmed talks with China over purchase of the longer-range stealth aircraft.
The Pakistani military authorities were determined to acquire 30 to 40 fourth generation stealth fighter (FC-31) aircraft from China with a view to pre-empting the rapidly increasing aerial dominance of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in the region. Pakistan had approached China and Russia to fulfill its defense procurements as the Pak-US ties continued to chill.
The JF-31 may also allow Pakistan to retire other aircraft and focus on it and the JF-17 for its future combat capability, presenting a relevant and sustainable high-low air combat capability mix.
Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman told The News 04 December 2015 that Pakistan would keep up with other regional powers that are buying 5th generation jets, and that negotiations had begun with the US about buying single engine multi-role F-35 fighters. The plane is widely regarded as the fighter jet of the next decade. Aman said that three options are being explored and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) could have 5th generation jets within 5 years.
In an interview aired by the national broadcaster PTV 31 May 2016, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman said Vision 2030 aims for greater indigenization of avionics, communication systems, and other subsystems and components for a fifth generation fighter. He accepted there are budgetary and research challenges, but said human resources and infrastructure was being developed to ensure that 10-15 years from now these goals could be achieved. A major aspect of this is Aviation City near Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra, the home of Pakistan’s aviation industry, which will have its own higher education facilities to nurture talent for the indigenization process.
As outlined by Aman, the JF-17 program laid the groundwork and “instilled sufficient confidence” to consider moving from a 50-50 partnership, as with the JF-17, to one featuring perhaps 70 percent to 80 percent “local design and production.”
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