Pakistan’s J10C – Better Than Indian Rafale?

On 28 August 23, China and Pakistan launched a joint airforce drill “Shaheen – X” in the NorthWestern region of Jiuquan and Yinchuan,in China. Interestingly, in this exercise both the militaries are fielding same fighter aircraft Chinese made fighter aircraft J 10CE. This is the first time that Pakistan’s newly inducted J 10CE fighters are participating in any joint exercise.

Why Pakistan Bought J 10 CE ?

The J-10C fighter jet is a 4.5-generation medium-sized fighter jet and is more powerful than the China-Pakistan jointly developed lightweight fighter jet, the JF-17, currently being used by the PAF. When the first batch of five Rafale aircraft landed in India on July 29, 2020,together with the Meteor and Mica air-to-air missile, Pakistan in desperation, had sought out 30 J-10CE fighters from China. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had formally received the first batch of six J-10 combat aircraft made by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) of China on 11 March 22 as a competitor of India’s Rafale jets. China boast of J 10 CE as indegenously developed fighter However, if we delve deep into the development history of J 10 fighters then one can easily realise how Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) had borrowed Israeli and Russian tech to built these aircraft.

Development of J 10 CE

Lavi B 02 Prototype

Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) was in charge of the design and construction of the J-10. The aircraft’s early development moved slowly. Although the J-10 fighter is China’s most popular homegrown fighter jet, various reports point out a possible partnership between CAC and Israel Aerospace Industries during China’s J-10 development work. Several accounts claim that Israelis provided CAC with classified information regarding the US-funded LAVI, an Israeli fourth-generation fighter jet with a comparable configuration developed in the 1980s but unable to advance past the prototype stage due to the suspension of US funding. However, China was able to procure the blueprints of the LAVI project.

J-10 CE

The LAVI was heavily based on US innovation, including some used in the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter. Because of this, the J-10 might contain some technology with US roots, such as avionics, advanced composite materials, and flight control specifications. The Israeli design influences can also be seen in the J-10’s close-coupled, canard-delta configuration. The J-10’s larger size, wing plan form, and distance between the canard and wing are just a few of the obvious differences between it and the LAVI. For instance, China was unable to use the lightweight Pratt & Whitney PW1120 turbofan engine from LAVI. It lacked the capacity to produce lightweight composite parts on a large scale. As a result, the J-10’s fuselage had to be extended by two metres to make room for the AL-31F turbofan engine, which weighs 11.75 tonnes.

Apart from aerodynamic design, J 10’s Type 1473 pulse doppler fire control radar is also based on the Israeli EL/M 2035 doppler radar intended for its scrapped LAVI fighter plane. Various accounts claim that the greatest detection range of the Type 1473 radar, created by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology (NRIET), is somewhere between 100 and 120 kilometers.

According to the book Modern Chinese Warplanes: Chinese Air Force – Aircraft and Units by Chinese aerospace observer and author Andreas Rupprecht, there were additional issues with the J-10’s anticipated WS-10 engine that nearly brought the entire project to a halt. Therefore, it’s possible that some J-10 fighters ended up using Saturn-Lyulka AL-31 engines that were manufactured in the USSR. The Chinese designer had to reconsider the J-10’s layout in order to fit the new engine, though.

Comparing J 10CE & Rafale

Technically comparison between J-10C and Rafale fighter jet is not possible, primarily because the latter is a twin-engined fighter with a globally recognised missile system and the latest electronic warfare suite. While J 10C, is actually a single-engine fighter, which is in a different league than the Rafale.

J 10CE has never seen the light of battle or a joint exercise (except with Pakistan) whereas the Rafale has been used in combat operations in Mali, Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria. The J-10 is operated by just two countries; China and Pakistan. On the other hand, Rafale is operated by 8 countries. When Pakistan procured J 10 CE fighters, a prominent Pakistani senator, Dr Afnan Ullah Khan, had tweeted that he did not “understand the logic behind buying J-10C”. Khan wrote that Pakistan already had an aircraft similar to the J-10, referring to the F-16. He reasoned that the J-10C was not “as good as the Rafale”, which is in service with the Indian Air Force.

Compared to the J-10C, the Rafale has a 20 percent greater thrust for only an 11 percent increase in weight. This means that the Rafale will have a thrust-to-weight ratio that is far better than the J-10C for the same weight of fuel and weapons, which translates to better agility and higher energy, which is the deciding factor in visual range (WVR) combat. Rafale has a range of 3,700 km as compared to the 1,850 km that the J-10C offers. What really matters is that the short-range missile of Rafale (MICA-IR) is generations ahead of the PL-8/9 missiles of the J-10C. The MICA-IR has an Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker against PL-8’s Infrared (IR) seeker and also.


Pakistan’s procurement of J 10 CE jets could be seen as its desperate attempt to maintain parity with Indian Air Force. Given the financial crisis looming in Pakistan is it possible that Pakistan went ahead to procure cheaper first copy of US F-16 in the form of J 10 CE from its all weather ally China. The efficacy of J 10CE fighters is yet to be proven in real conflict scenario. Given that Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) has carried out development of both JF-17 and J-10 C, also with growing maintenance issues with JF -17 it might be possible that soon Pakistan Air Force will be marred by maintenance issue with J 10 CE in future.



The Editorial Team At DefenceXP Network Consists Of Professional Writers, Defence Enthusiast And Defence Aspirants.

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