By GASTÓN DUBOIS
Today, the first six units of the Chengdu J-10C «Vigorous Dragon», acquired to counter the 36 Dassault Rafale purchased by the Indian Air Force, were inducted into the Pakistan Air Force.
The induction ceremony of the J-10C into PAF (Pakistan Air Force) active service was held at Minhas (Kamra) airbase, west of the capital Islamabad. It was presided over by Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Babar and was attended by senior officials of the Air Force, Ministry of Defense, the Chinese Ambassador, and Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The aircraft were numbered 101 to 106 and are the first batch of the 36 J-10Cs acquired by Pakistan to form 2 squadrons of 18 units each. Other batches should follow very soon, if the promise of 25 J-10C fighters to participate in the March 23 celebrations is to be kept.
J-10C Dragon Vigorous
The J-10C is a modern, agile and powerful 4.5 generation fighter aircraft. Equipped with an AESA active electronically scanning radar, efficient ECM, low radar cross-section and a wide range of smart munitions at its disposal, it is in the same league as the Rafale acquired by India.
The version acquired by Pakistan (first export customer of the J-10), which unofficially we could call J-10CP, incorporates the Chinese WS-10B Taihang turbofan engine and some avionics and data display elements present in the JF-17 Block III, whose incorporation to the PAF is also very recent.
The Vigorous Dragon has superior DNA to a JF-17 Thunder (even in its Block III version), which was designed to be a light, inexpensive fighter to build in large numbers. The J-10C is a larger fighter, has a bigger AESA radar antenna, and overall more powerful than the JF-17.
Armed with the PL-10 short-range and PL-15 long-range air-to-air missiles , the J-10C will become the PAF’s most lethal fighter, complementing the homegrown JF-17 and progressively displacing the U.S.-made F-16.