China, Pakistan successfully wrap up joint air exercise
Published: Sep 20, 2023 08:48 PM
A J-10CE fighter jet conducts test flight and hosts training for its pilot shortly before it is delivered to the Pakistan Air Force on March 11, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of AVIC

A J-10CE fighter jet conducts test flight and hosts training for its pilot shortly before it is delivered to the Pakistan Air Force on March 11, 2022. Photo: Courtesy of AVIC

With the return of participating Pakistani forces to their home country on Tuesday, China and Pakistan successfully wrapped up the Shaheen-X joint air exercise in Northwest China, with observers on Wednesday predicting more military interactions and exchanges that will further deepen pragmatic cooperation between the "Iron Brothers."

The J-10C and JF-17 fighter aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force contingent on Tuesday landed back at an operational air base in Pakistan after successful participation in the joint air exercise in China, the Pakistan Air Force said in a press release on Tuesday.

Aimed at validating interoperability between China and Pakistan in the face of realistic contemporary air combat scenarios, the exercise was a collaborative endeavor that facilitated the exchange of valuable insights and lessons learned, according to the Pakistani press release.

A video attached to the press release highlighted that the Shaheen-X was an operational exercise that deepened brotherhood, created synergy, enhanced professional skills and operational preparedness and shared cultural values.

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force dispatched warplanes including the J-16 fighter jet to the joint exercise, the video showed.

The drill, the 10th edition in the Shaheen exercise series, started on August 28 in Jiuquan, Northwest China's Gansu Province and Yinchuan, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

In addition to fighters, other types of aircraft such as early warning aircraft and ground equipment, including ground-to-air missile systems, radar installations and communications units, also participated in the drill that practiced typical combat scenarios such as joint air defense and joint countermeasures, according to Xinhua.

The exercise featured advanced warplanes from both sides and formed complete combat systems that stress interoperability, a Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The J-16 from the Chinese side is the PLA Air Force's most powerful and all-rounded fighter jet, only second to the stealth-capable J-20, while the J-10C from the Pakistani side is the Pakistan Air Force's most advanced aircraft, the expert said.

Pakistan commissioned the first batch of Chinese-developed J-10Cs in March 2022. They can be interconnected with their Chinese counterparts through the PLA Air Force's KJ-500 early warning aircraft, the expert said.

Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military aviation expert, told the Global Times that the exercise is beneficial to both sides in terms of skills, tactics and interoperability.

The two countries use different training approaches, but at the same time fly the same aircraft, the J-10C, so both sides can learn from each other, Fu said.

Experts anticipate there will be more high-level exchanges, joint exercises among the armies, navies and air forces of the two countries, personnel training, as well as technology cooperation, including arms sales and joint development, in the future.