Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pakistan Air Force Inducts First Squadron of JF-17 Thunder Jet

ISLAMABAD - The first squadron of fighter jet JF-17 Thunder, a joint Pakistan-China production, was on Thursday inducted in Pakistan Air Force (PAF) fleet.

A special ceremony was held for this purpose at PAF airbase near Kamra Aeronautical Complex, about 50km from here. Chief of Air Staff Rao Qamar Suleman formally received the squadron.

In his address, the Air Chief congratulated the nation and said it is a historic day for PAF and entire nation.

JF-17 Thunder aircraft is an advanced multi-role light combat aircraft jointly developed by Chengdu and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex under a strategic collaboration project. The aircraft is designed to be cost-effective and can meet the tactical and strategic needs of the Pakistan Air Force, and various other air forces.

The production facilities have been set up for the aircraft in Pakistan. The first batch of 50 JF-17 Thunder aircraft has been equipped with the Chinese/Pakistani avionics and missiles, while the later aircrafts are to be equipped with more advanced radars and missiles.

France offered Pakistan its RC-400 radar and MBDA MICA missile for the aircraft.

The serial production of JF-17 Thunder has already started and the production capacity would be gradually taken to 25 aircraft per year by 2011.

About 60 per cent of the aircraft’s frame and 80 per cent of its avionics have 
been manufactured in Pakistan.

Monday, February 8, 2010

India-Pakistan: China Takes Sides

Pakistani officials continue to press the U.S. for missile armed UAVs, so Pakistan can go after targets it selects, and ease the American UAVs out of Pakistan. The U.S. doesn't trust the Pakistanis, who can be bribed, and often have divided (pro-Taliban) loyalties. Pakistani politicians don't care, or at least have learned to live with these two problems, and want control of UAVs so they won't continue getting criticized for allowing American UAVs to deal with hunting down and killing terrorist leaders. This is considered humiliating by many, if not most, Pakistanis. But if the Pakistani government were in charge, the bad guys could bribe, or intimidate officials, to get off the target list. You can't do that with the Americans. What the Taliban can do is try and find who is supplying the location information of targets. The Americans actually use a wide array of sources, but the only ones the Taliban can get at are suspected spies. More are killed each month, and most are apparently innocent. This sort of thing angers a lot of people, as do a lot of Taliban policies. So the Taliban are taking note of growing public anger against them, and have, for example, allowed music to be sold again. For the last year, the Taliban had waged open, or guerilla, war against merchants who sold music CDs. The Taliban increasingly must use force to control populations, and this eventually backfires because most of the population is armed. If enough angry tribesmen get together, the Taliban are driven out of another town or valley. This has been happening a lot in the last year.

In Quetta, the largest city in Pakistani Baluchistan, two policemen were wounded when they questioned a suicide bomber equipped with a defective bomb. The bomber was wounded and captured. Baluchistan has its own tribal uprising, which has little to do with the Taliban (although the Baluch tribes allow the Taliban to hide out in Baluchistan).

China and Pakistan are becoming closer allies, and this worries India. For example, China is increasingly taking Pakistan's side in the Kashmir dispute. While Pakistan and India occupy most of Kashmir, China also grabbed 22 percent of Kashmir, and wants a settlement that will confirm their ownership. But India disputes the Chinese claim, and many other such claims along its 4,000 kilometers border with China.

India continues to mass police and troops for a major campaign against Maoist rebels. In the last year, Maoist violence have been responsible for over a thousand deaths (most of them civilians). The Maoists are a combination of political rebels and bandits. Their activities are as often just criminal (stealing and extortion) as political (trying to influence elections or intimidate politicians.) The Maoists have been at it for two decades, and have worn out the support they long had with leftist political parties. The Maoists want a communist dictatorship, with Maoists in charge, and their former leftist allies are not keen on this.

February 3, 2010: In northwest Pakistan, a suicide car bomber rammed the specific vehicle in a convoy of five, that contained three U.S. Army Special Forces troops, killing the Americans. For years, there have been about a hundred of these American troops in Pakistan, used to train NCOs of the Frontier Corps, who then improve the training of these paramilitary troops, recruited from the tribes, who are the primary security force along the border. The accuracy of this attack (the killers knew where the Special Forces troops were headed and which car in a convoy) indicates corruption in the Pakistani security or intelligence forces. The corruption has always been there, and it would have cost a lot of cash to buy this kind of information. It may indicate the Taliban are desperate to strike back at any cost. The three dead Americans are the first to die in Pakistan in a decade of operating there. The three were travelling to a girls school that had recently been rebuilt (after having been damaged by the Taliban) with American aid.

February 2, 2010: In Pakistan (North Waziristan) American USVs fired over a dozen missiles at four villages, killing about 17 suspected Taliban and al Qaeda members.

February 1, 2010: In the Bajaur area of the Pakistani tribal territories, about 4,000 people fled their homes as troops sought, and attacked, nearby bunkers and other hiding places used by the Taliban. At least 22 of the Islamic terrorists were killed. This operation is one of several in which the army is chasing down groups of Taliban who were part of larger forces that were defeated when the army broke Taliban control in the tribal territories.

January 31, 2010: The U.S. announced that the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, was dead, having died of wounds received in an American UAV missile attack two weeks ago. This conclusion is based on reports coming out of the tribal territories of Hakimullah Mehsud's burial, after two weeks of futile attempts to tend his wounds. Hakimullah Mehsud, replaced, after some internal fighting, the Pakistani Taliban leader who was killed by a missile strike last Summer.

January 30, 2010: In the Pakistani tribal territories, a Taliban suicide bomber killed 17 people and wounded nearly 50. The Taliban have also used several roadside bombs recently, attacking civilians in most cases. In response, the military has increased its air strikes and ground operations against the scattered Taliban groups still operating in the tribal territories.

Monday, February 1, 2010

China mulls military bases in Pakistan

China has signaled to set up foreign military bases including one in Pakistan, a Chinese government website said.

“Setting up overseas military bases is not an idea we have to shun; on the contrary, it is our right…it is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad,” said the report.

The report also said, “As for the military aspect, we should be able to conduct the retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighbouring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the potential enemies' overseas interests. With further development, China will be in great demand of the military protection".

It is clearly aimed at piling up pressure on India and to counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"As for the military aspect, we should be able to conduct the retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighboring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the potential enemies' overseas interests. With further development, China will be in great demand of the military protection," said the report.

A military base in Pakistan will help China keep a check on Uighurs who are fighting for an independent nation in Xinjiang, which borders the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan.