Pakistan to purchase Chinese fighter aircraft 'based on Israeli prototype'

Pakistan to purchase Chinese fighter aircraft 'based on Israeli prototype'
2 min read
05 January, 2022
Pakistan’s interior minister said his country is planning to purchase Chinese J-10 aircraft which were reportedly "based on the Israeli Lavi jet fighter project", which was abandoned in the 1980s.
The Chinese J-10 fighter plane is believed to be partly based on the abandoned Israeli Lavi model [Getty]

Pakistan is planning to buy fighter planes from China which were built based on an Israeli aircraft prototype developed in the 1980s but later cancelled, according to reports in Forbes and Haaretz.

Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed announced the purchase of 25 Chinese J-10 aircraft at a public event on 29 December, saying that they would safeguard against 36 Dassault Rafale jet fighters bought by India from France.

There has been no official comment from China or Pakistan on the reported purchase.

The Chinese J-10s, also known as Vigorous Dragons, are lightweight fighter planes believed to be based - at least partly - on the Lavi jet, a plane developed by Israel in the mid-1980s but discontinued in 1987 before going into production.

Analysis
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The Lavi fighter was a multi-billion dollar project which the government of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir abandoned in the face of rising costs and pressure from the US government.

In 1988, then-defence minister Yitzhak Rabin denied reports that Israel had sold military technology to China helping it to develop combat fighter planes. The J-10 aircraft, which bears many similarities to the Lavi, was developed in 1998.

In a 2017 Haaretz article another former Israeli defence minister, Moshe Arens, lamented the cancellation of the Lavi, calling it "the world's best fighter aircraft at the time".

He blamed the administration of former US President Ronald Reagan for killing the project.

However, while the cancelled Lavi may have been state-of-the art when it was developed, there is considerable doubt whether the J-10 can help Pakistan counter India's newly acquired Rafales, which Forbes says have a superior thrust-to-weight ratio and better radar capabilities.

Pakistan is a longtime ally of China and has a history of acquiring weapons from the country in order to counter India.

In 2019, the Pakistani and Indian air forces clashed after India accused Pakistan of supporting an attack by the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian police officers.