China and Pakistan have conducted a joint-air exercise called Shaheen-1, which saw the first ever deployment of a Chinese air force contingent to Pakistan.

"A contingent of Chinese PLA air force comprising combat aircraft, pilots and technicians arrived at an operational base of the Pakistan air force," the latter service says. "The exercise has been designed to share mutual experiences, hone professional skills, and accrue maximum benefits from the expertise of the two air forces."

Pakistan has not disclosed details about the types of aircraft involved, the missions performed, the location of the exercise, or the total number of personnel involved. The only official image shows 24 officers, 12 Pakistani and 12 Chinese.

The exercise took place over two weeks in March.

China and Pakistan have a long history of defence collaboration. Most recently the two countries co-developed the Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter. The Pakistan air force also had a prominent presence at 2010's Air Show China in Zhuhai, with a large chalet and several aircraft on display.

At the November show Zeng Wen, vice-president of the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation, said Pakistan had 50 firm orders for the JF-17, but could end up buying 200. The nation's first two full-strength JF-17 squadrons are in the process of becoming fully operational.

Source: Flight International