Pakistan continues modernising its air force with the Chinese Chengdu J-10C Vigorous Dragon and plans to acquire the J-31 stealth fighter. Pakistan also has JF-17 Thunder fighters produced in cooperation with China.
PAF Commander Babar confirmed the acquisition plan; however, he took over command of the PAF in March 2021 and is expected to hand it over in March 2024.
Pakistan has experienced a political coup in 2022. Amid a constitutional crisis, Pro-Chinese Prime Minister İmran Khan lost his power then. The expectation was to see a more pro-US government in charge, but relations with China restarted a year later in 2023 and continue at full speed.
Indian analysts claim that Chinese fighters will replace PAF’s ageing F-16 fleet. Currently, 75 units of the Fighting Falcon family, including the F-16A, F-16B, F-16C, and F-16D, are in service with the PAF. Turkish Aerospace (TUSAŞ) modernised 41 of them. The modernisation includes avionics and structural improvement. The modernisation programme was completed in 2014.
PAF also has 87 Dassault Mirage 3 and 92 Dassault Mirage 5 fighter jets in the inventory.
The J-31 fighter jet is currently under development by the Shenyang aircraft factory and has not yet entered the production line.
On the other hand, Pakistan has developed relations with Turkiye and shows close interest in the Turkish fighter jet Kaan, which has not performed its maiden flight yet. Both aircraft are classified as fifth-generation fighter jets.