A screenshot from a Pakistan government report, showing five of the first six J-10 combat aircraft to be delivered from China. (Government of Pakistan)
Pakistan has formally received its first Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-10 multirole combat aircraft from China, with an induction ceremony held on 11 March.
The ceremony held at Minhas Air Base was attended by the Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, as well as the Chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), the Chinese Ambassador, and other senior dignitaries.
“A sovereign country can only remain sovereign when it can defend itself,” Prime Minister Khan said at the event, adding, “The message conveyed to the entire world [with these new aircraft] is that we can defend ourselves.”
Footage of the event showed the PAF to have received the first six of as many as 36 J-10 aircraft (the precise number has not been officially disclosed), with national media reporting that No 15 Squadron is introducing the type into operational service. The J-10 is named Meng Long (Vigorous Dragon) in China, and has been unofficially assigned the NATO reporting name‘Firebird'. The PAF has not yet announced its name for the type.
Pakistan's procurement of the J-10 dates back to 2009. At that time, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the China Aviation Technology Import-Export Corporation (CATIC) launched serial production of the JF-17 Thunder in Pakistan, while the then Chief of the PAF confirmed that his service expected to start taking delivery of the more advanced J-10 fighter aircraft from China by 2014–15.