Pakistan's J-10 Vigorous Dragon fighters spotted during tests in China


A photo of one of the J-10 fighters in PAF markings and paint scheme. Photo c/o AEROSINT Division PSF.

Photos have emerged online indicating Chinese-made J-10 Vigorous Dragon fighters are indeed being exported to Pakistan, after years of speculations if such a deal ever occurred.

Online photos show at least two Chengdu J-10 fighter aircraft in Pakistan Air Force (PAF) paint scheme and markings in an undisclosed airbase in China, which was believed to be Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) facility in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

The photos also show the aircraft having different serial numbers, 22-102 and 22-106, although other photos show that there are at least 25 J-10 fighters in CAC's assembly line and are believed to be bound for Pakistan.

This coincides with a recent announcement by Pakistan Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed that the PAF is expected to receive 25 new J-10 fighters (incorrectly said as JS-10), and that they would be participating in a flypast performance during the upcoming Pakistan Day Parade on 23 March 2022.

Analysts have also noticed that the photo indicated the use of the Chinese-made WS-10B Taihang engines rather than the Russian-made AL-31F that is used on J-10A and J-10B fighters of China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).

This means that the aircraft are the latest J-10C variants, which are designed for export and does not require Russian approval for sale or transfer to a 3rd country like Pakistan.

Pakistan is the J-10's first export market, which is a success for the type considering China have made the aircraft available for export since 2006. The country has shown interest on the J-10 fighter for several years although no official confirmation has been available until last year.

The J-10C is also expected to become the PAF's most advanced fighter to date, compared to its current fleet line-up consisting of the JF-17A/B Block 1/2/3 Thunder, the F-16A/B ADF and Block 15 MLU, and F-16/C/D Block 52+ Fighting Falcon fighters from the United States, and older fighters including the French-made Mirage III and Mirage 5, and the Chinese-made F-7PG.

Pakistan and China already have strong collaboration on fighter development, with the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex successfully producing the JF-17 Thunder fighter with assistance from CAC.

PAF pilots have also gained previous exposure to the J-10 fighter as part of several joint China-Pakistan exercises.

The J-10C Vigorous Dragon, which is also known under the NATO reporting name Firebird, is believed to be Pakistan's answer to India's procurement of the French-made Dassault Rafale, which is currently the country's most advanced fighter aircraft.

[1] The Drive The Warzone
[2] Eurasian Times
[3] The Week India

Pakistan's J-10 Vigorous Dragon fighters spotted during tests in China Pakistan's J-10 Vigorous Dragon fighters spotted during tests in China Reviewed by Asia Pacific Defense Journal on February 18, 2022 Rating: 5

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