Pakistan will buy Chinese air-to-air SD-10 missiles and avionics to arm its 250 JF-17 Thunder fighter fleet, the country's air force chief has said, amid signs that the French had spurned offer to equip them.
"Islamabad is seeking to deepen military cooperation with Beijing", Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman Chief of the Pakistani Air Force told the Global Times revealing that his country may also opt to acquire other advanced defence missile systems including Chinese Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) systems.
Pakistan has opted to go in for full Chinese armament systems for the jointly developed fighters and Suleman currently on a visit to China told the paper that the advanced active radar and homing middle-range missile developed by China, called the SD-10 will become the standard Beyond Visual Range (BVR) weapon of the JF-17.
"PAF has no plans to install western devices and weapons on the aircraft for the time being", Pakistani Air Force Chief said.
Global Times quoting unnamed sources claimed that the French consortium has withdrawn from a reported 1.2 billion euro contract to supply radars and missiles for the first wave of 50 JF-17 fighters, after pressure from India.
French sources had reported that a joint bid had been made by French aeronautic company ATE along with Thales Group and MBDA.
The paper said that Pakistan may also buy upto four batteries of the Chinese SAM missiles.
The Pakistan Air Force Chief is currently on a visit to China to attend the Zhuhai Air Show now underway in southern China, where the JF-17s were a major attraction.
The SD-10 (ShanDian-10) is a radar guided air-to-air missile developed by China in 2002. The Red Air Force has inducted these missiles in 2007 and the ones being supplied to Pakistan would be the missiles first exports.
SD-10 is said to be a variant of Italian Aspide missiles supplied to China in late 80s.
Pakistan Air Force has a big fleet of Chinese made fighters including F-7PGs and A-5s. The medium technology JF-17 or Thunder jets manufactured jointly with China are a new addition to PAF.