The arrival of two squadrons of the Rafale fighters will be a game-changer, Pakistan has realised. And in desperation, Pakistan has reached out to China for 30 J-10CE fighters and modern air-to-air missiles for its air force.
Pakistan had asked for the J-10 in 2009. But with the joint production of the JF-17 by China and Pakistan, the J-10 was placed in the backburner. Now, with the Rafales coming, discussions between China and Pakistan have begun again, high-level government sources said. Along with the J-10CE, Pakistan has asked for the PL-10 and PL-15, short-range and long-range air-to-air missiles respectively.
With the United States gradually getting close to India, China has become Pakistan's only supplier of sophisticated weapons. The J-10CE is the export version of the J-10 with the People's Liberation Army Air Force and has the AESA radar, fire-control systems and Infrared technology.
The Pakistan Air Force isn't just worried about the Rafale, which comes with the Meteor air-to-air missile and also, the Mica missile, that can be air-launched. The S-400 air defence system and the MR-SAM or Medium-range surface-to-air missile system will be considerable threats to PAF fighters.
The PAF is dependent on its 124 JF-17 fighters, co-produced with China, it's 70odd F-16s and the Mirage 3A. If, or rather, when the J-10CE arrives with the missiles, it will be another challenge for the IAF.