Pakistan, not Iran, may buy China’s J-10 aircraft first: Expert

Beijing: As China looks to sell its J-10 fighter jet to Iran after lifting of UN sanctions, Pakistan may overtake Tehran as the first buyer of the Chinese multi-role aircraft, a military expert here has said.

“It is natural that Iran is interested in the J-10. Iran has a very limited range of choice in terms of arms procurement. In regard to military aircraft deals, I guess it can only choose between China and Russia,” said Fu Qianshao, an aviation equipment expert with the PLA’s air force.

“The J-10 is able to confront any of the third-generation fighter jets operated by Iran’s neighbouring countries because it features supreme maneuverability, strong firepower and cutting-edge avionic equipment,” Fu told state-run China Daily.

Fu said he believed the J-10’s first overseas buyer will be Pakistan, not Iran, but did not elaborate on it. According to the report, Japanese website The Diplomat cited an earlier report that Pakistan signed a deal for the purchase of 36 J-10 jets in 2009.

Pakistan, which jointly with China produces J-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, has been showing interest to acquire J-10, the report said, adding that China is also wooing Iran to buy 150 J-10s. “Once the sanctions against Iran are completely lifted, the country will definitely renovate its civilian and military aircraft fleets. The J-10 is a good option for the Iranians because it can fulfill all operations they want to conduct,” said Wang Yanan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine.

With the development of China’s next-generation fighter jet progressing well, it is highly possible that the Chinese aviation industry will transfer technologies used on the J-10 to buyers, he added. Yanan’s remarks came in the backdrop of speculation in foreign media that China and Iran are discussing a deal for 150 J-10 fighter jets.

The J-10 is a third-generation, multi-role fighter aircraft designed and produced by Chinese Aviation Industry. Chinese military experts claim it is comparable to the latest version of the US’ F-16 Fighting Falcon.