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Pakistan Air Force to induct four midair refuellers next year

The Pakistan-India defence forces' one-upmanship continues with the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) announcing it would induct four airborne refuellers based on the Il-78 platform by next year - six years after India acquired six similar aircraft.

world Updated: Aug 11, 2009 15:35 IST

The Pakistan-India defence forces' one-upmanship continues with the Pakistani Air Force (PAF) announcing it would induct four airborne refuellers based on the Il-78 platform by next year - six years after India acquired six similar aircraft.

Terming midair refuelling capability "extremely significant", PAF chief Air Chief Marshal Qamar Suleman told Jane's Defence Weekly: "This is an absolutely new capability we are getting, which we are inducting. We never had this capability in the Pakistan Air Force."

And, to match the Indian Air Force's acquisition of the first of three airborne warning and control systems (AWACS), PAF chief Air Chief Marshal Qamar Suleman told Jane's Defence Weekly that his force would receive four Chinese systems between 2011 and 2012.

Suleman also termed as "alarming" the IAF's intention of purchasing 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), saying Pakistan needed "to have something matching".

"We knew about this requirement of the Indian Air Force for 126 latest-generation fighter aircraft. Yes, it is an alarming development because when they get 126 such capable aircraft, then we also need to have something matching to counter that threat," the air chief maintained.

The IAF is set to begin field trials later this year of the six combat jets that are in contention for its order, which might even go up to 200 to counter depleting force levels.

The first of the fighters are likely to be inducted in 2012.

Referring to the induction of the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft co-produced with China, Suleman said the PAF plans to eventually induct up to 250 planes, making it the backbone of its inventory.

However, there was still a requirement for a more advanced fighter aircraft, as the PAF prepares to counter the future edge the IAF may acquire once it completes the planned purchase of 126 MMRCAs, the air chief maintained.