Pakistan to get Chinese AEW&C aircraft this year

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Pakistan has received its second Erieye radar-equipped Saab 2000, and will also accept its first Shaanxi ZDK-03 airborne early warning and control system aircraft before year-end.

Islamabad has four ZDK-03s on order, with deliveries due to start later this year, say air force sources. The type is a new variant of the Shaanxi Y8 AEW&C aircraft designed specifically for Pakistan.

The Chinese aircraft is powered by four turboprop engines and has a greater range than offered by the Saab Microwave Systems Erieye, the sources say.

The air force recently received its second Saab 2000 surveillance aircraft, and anticipates that it will receive its remaining two in the second and third quarters of this year.

 
© Saab
Islamabad signed a mid-2006 contract for Erieye radar-equipped Saab 2000s

Pakistan's move to source AEW&C aircraft from both China and the West is indicative of its strategy to refrain from being overly reliant on any one ally. The USA imposed military sanctions against Pakistan from 1990 to 2005 in response to its testing nuclear weapons.

The air force's current fleet includes Lockheed Martin F-16s, Dassault Mirage III and 5 fighters, Chengdu F-7s and JF-17s; a new type developed jointly by China and Pakistan.

In terms of military transports, Pakistan flies Lockheed C-130s, but also operates Ilyushin Il-78 tankers.