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Defence & Aerospace

Pakistan is sort-of happy with Chinese aircraft, bought under pressure from China


ZDK-03 Karakorum Eagle AEW&C plane

ZDK-03 Karakorum Eagle AEW&C plane

US Defence Weekly website says in its report “Pakistan Re-equips Squadron With AEW&C Planes” that China delivered in late February the last of the four ZDK-03 Karakorum Eagle AEW&C planes ordered by Pakistan.

The head of Pakistan’s Air Force (PAF), Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the ceremony on the commissioning of the aircraft.

According to the website, former Air Commodore Kaiser said that the Pakistani military bought the four Chinese AEW&C planes reluctantly as it was a transaction done “under pressure of [then President] Gen. Musharraf, as a political expedient [Chinese appeasement], and not because of any reasons of technical superiority.”

However, he said “[T]he performance of the Eagle has turned out to be surprisingly good, which takes some sting out of the initial criticism.”

Author’s note: China developed t heZDK-03 for export and the KJ-500 for its own use. The latter is certainly much better than the former as it is a later version and uses a better transport aircraft, the Y-9 instead of the Y-8 as a platform. The Y-9’s payload of 25,000 kg is much bigger than the Y-8’s 20,000 kg.

The following is the full text of Defence Weekly website’s report:

Pakistan Re-equips Squadron With AEW&C Planes

Pakistan’s Air Force (PAF) Thursday stood up its unit of Chinese Karakorum Eagle AEW&C aircraft in a ceremony attended by the head of the PAF, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafiq Butt, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Though the exact location of the ceremony was not given, it is believed to have been held at PAF Base Masroor in Karachi as the prime minister was known to have been in the city that day.

Brian Cloughley, an analyst and former Australian defence attaché to Islamabad, said AEW&C “is very good news for the PAF – and for Pakistan” because it “will dramatically improve early warning capabilities which up until now have been comparatively rudimentary.”

The ZDK-03 Karakorum Eagle is a dish-based AEW&C system mounted on a Shaanxi Y-8F600 aircraft. Though never confirmed, it has been speculated that the dish houses an AESA antenna.

Four were ordered in 2008 with the first delivered in 2010.

Air Commodore Syed Muhammad Ali, a spokesman for the Air Force, confirmed all Karakorum Eagle aircraft on order have now been delivered, but could not say if more would be ordered from China.

The aircraft join No.4 Squadron, which was first established in 1959 with Bristol Freighter transports and Grumman HU-16 Albatross amphibians. The amphibians were used for maritime reconnaissance, search and rescue, and casualty evacuation alongside Sikorsky H-19D helicopters. The HU-16s were retired in 1968 and the H-19Ds in 1969.

The unit was then “number-plated” until officially re-equipped with the Karakorum Eagle.

The four Karakorum Eagle AEW&C aircraft join the surviving three Saab Erieye AEW&C aircraft ordered in 2005 and delivered from 2009. One of the four Erieye aircraft was destroyed in a terrorist attack on Kamra Air Base in August 2012.

That the Air Force operates two types of AEW&C aircraft for the same mission has been much commented on.

Analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank says the Karakorum Eagle’s mission is “[b]asically the same job as Erieye but based in southern sector.

“To cover all the length of Pakistan we needed additional AEW&C aircraft and ZDK-03 was the answer due to political and financial considerations,” he said.

Former Air Commodore Kaiser Tufail says the PAF was not keen on their purchase.

“The [Karakorum] Eagle was purchased rather reluctantly, under pressure of [then President] Gen. Musharraf, as a political expedient [Chinese appeasement], and not because of any reasons of technical superiority,” he said. “It would have been more cost effective to manage a single type than these two vastly different ones.”

Though he now believes attitudes have changed.

“Having said that, the performance of the Eagle has turned out to be surprisingly good, which takes some sting out of the initial criticism,” he said.

Tufail says an absence of news of the fourth aircraft being delivered may mean it is undergoing installation of Link 16 datalink equipment to enable it to communicate with all of the PAF’s aircraft, particularly its F-16s, and not just the JF-17 Thunders.
To date the Erieye AEW&C aircraft have been able to communicate with the Western aircraft in service such as the F-16, and the Karakorum Eagle with the Chinese aircraft such as the Sino-Pak JF-17, and perhaps the F-7PG.

Cloughley does not think this has changed.

“It’s unlikely that the systems will complement those of the US, but cooperation with China is more important for Pakistan,” he said.

PAF officials have previously told Defence News that this was impractical and would change.

Though perhaps not as technologically advanced as the Swedish Erieye, according to Haris Khan of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank, the two types of AEW&C aircraft have worked very well together with the installation of Link 16 compatible equipment throughout the PAF’s aircraft fleet.

Combined, they have effectively covered the country and much of Pakistan’s maritime area of interest.

Source: Defence Weekly website “Pakistan Re-equips Squadron With AEW&C Planes”
Source of the Photo: huanqiu.com “Four Chinese AEW&C planes commissioned in Pakistan military, which is satisfied with the China-made aircrafts’ performance” (title translated from Chinese by Chan Kai Yee)

 

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About chankaiyee2

Author of the book "Tiananmen's Tremendous Achievements" about how with the help of Tiananmen Protests, talented scholars with moral integrity seized power in the Party and state and brought prosperity to China. The second edition of the book will be published within a few days to mark the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Protests All the parts in the first edition remain in the second edition with a few changes due to information available later and better understanding. There are also some changes for improvements of style. The new parts are Chapters 12-19 on events in China after the first edition was published: The fierce power struggle for succession between reformists and conservatives; Xi Jinping winning all elders’ support during his mysterious disappearance for 2 weeks in early September, 2012; and Xi Jinping Cyclone. Chan Kai Yee's new book: SPACE ERA STRATEGY: The Way China Beats The US An eye-opening book that tells the truth how the US is losing to China. The US is losing as it adopts the outdated strategy of Air-Sea Battle while China adopts the space era strategy to pursue integrated space and air capabilities: It is losing due to its diplomacy that has given rise to Russian-Chinese alliance. US outdated strategy has enabled China to catch up and surpass the US in key weapons: Hypersonic weapons (HGV) that Pentagon regards as the weapon that will dominate the world in the future. Aerospaceplane in China’s development of space-air bomber that can engage enemy anywhere in the world within an hour and destroy an entire aircraft carrier battle group within minutes. Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, anti-ASAT weapons, stealth aircrafts, drones, AEW&C, etc. The book gives detailed descriptions of China’s weapon development based on information mainly from Chinese sources that the author monitors closely. U.S. Must Not Be Beaten by China! China is not a democracy. Its political system cannot prevent the emergence of a despotic leader or stop such a leader when he begins to bring disasters to people. A few decades ago, Mao Zedong, the worst tyrant in world history did emerge and bring disasters to Chinese people. He wanted to fight a nuclear war to replace capitalism with communism but could not bring nuclear holocaust to world people as China was too weak and poor at that time. If a despot like Mao Zedong emerges when China has surpassed the US in military strength, world people will suffer the misery experienced by Chinese people in Mao era. China surpassing the US in GDP is not something to worry about as China has the heavy burden to satisfy its huge population, but China surpassing the US in military strength will be world people’s greatest concern if China remains an autocracy. US people are of much better quality than Chinese people. What they lack is a wise leader to adopt the correct strategy and diplomacy and the creative ways to use its resources in developing its military capabilities. I hope that with the emergence of a great leader, the US can put an end to its decline and remain number one in the world. China, US, space era strategy, air-sea battle, space-air bomber, arms race, weapon development, chan kai yee

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