A batch of Chinese air force’s troops left for Pakistan on Monday to take part in “Shaheen (Eagle)-IX”, joint exercises, the Chinese military said.
The troops left for the Pakistani Air Force’s airbase in Bholari at Thatta district in Sindh, northeast of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, to participate in the drills, a statement issued by China’s defense ministry said. The joint air force exercise, which will conclude in late December, is a project within the 2020 cooperation plan of the two militaries, it said.
It will promote the development of China-Pakistan mil-to-mil relationships, deepen practical cooperation between the two air forces, and improve the actual-combat training level of the two sides, it said. The first such drill was held in Pakistan in March 2011. All-weather friends, China and Pakistan share close military ties. China helps Pakistan to jointly produce JF-17 fighter jets.
The Pakistan Air Force now faces serious difficulties. Its frontline fighter, the JF-17, developed with the help of the Chinese, has maintenance problems that are getting worse every day.
The reason is the JF-17’s Russian-made engine, the RD-93, and the sanctions by the United States of America on Rosoboronexport, the Russian defense trade agency, since 2018. Engines need to be overhauled; they need to be replaced after a certain number of hours of flying. And only Rosoboronexport can ensure overhauling and provide new engines or spare parts.