Defence and Diplomacy, a policy show hosted by retired Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Group Captain Sultan Hali, just released an excellent interview (in English) with the PAF’s Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman. Quite a bit was discussed, and that too on a whole range of issues, from the PAF to societal development and nation-building.
However, in terms of the PAF, ACM Sohail Aman was able to offer interesting details regarding success accrued from the JF-17 Thunder, the PAF’s plans for a next-generation fighter, the vision behind Kamra Aviation City, and the rationale of setting up the Airpower Centre for Excellence (ACE). This week, we will take a look at ACM Sohail Aman’s vision in regards to the development of a next-generation fighter.
Just as important as the acquisition of a next-generation fighter itself, the CAS definitively established the need to build a sufficiently capable indigenous base to source and support that fighter. The rationale is driven by the reality that a next-generation aircraft is dependent upon financial and political strings that not only inhibit the PAF from progressing in terms of its modernization needs, but also limit the country in terms of its independence. Breaking away from this dynamic is the principal objective of the current PAF leadership, and a set of objectives for 2030 have been put into motion.
If the JF-17 paved the groundwork for such goals, the next-generation fighter would essentially form the pillars of what would hopefully be – one day – a capable domestic aerospace industry. The PAF is hoping to use the development of a next-generation fighter as a means to master most of the core technology necessary to produce and support the fighter with the minimum of dependency on an external source.