Shaheen-IX pakistan china air force drill
Pakistan, China joint air drills Shaheeh-IX concluded at PAF operational air base on December 24, 2020. Image Credit: Pakistan Air Force

Islamabad: Pakistan and China officials have pledged to enhance military collaboration to improve their responses to regional security threats and to ensure peace and stability in the region.

Pakistan and Chinese air forces concluded on Thursday the joint drills called ‘Shaheen-IX’ during which the two air forces achieved multiple “breakthroughs and new heights in a diversified battlefield environment”, according to Pakistan Air Force (PAF) statement.

Evolving dynamics of air warfare

Addressing the participants at the closing ceremony of the two-week joint exercise, Pakistan’s Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan called for “enhanced partnership between Pakistan and China” to cope with “the existing global security scenario coupled with the evolving dynamics of air warfare.” Speaking at the ceremony, the Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong said the “international and regional strategic situation is undergoing profound changes with growing complexity in security environment” which calls for collaboration between the “two armed forces in maintaining peace and stability” and to cope with various challenges.

Fighter jets and combat pilots participated

Dramatic pictures and videos showed modern fighter jets from Pakistan and China air forces on the runway at PAF Bholari air base. During the air drills, the Pakistan air chief also flew an advanced Chinese fighter jet and praised the professionalism and outstanding air combat skills of Chinese pilots.

A contingent of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), comprising combat pilots, air defence controllers and technical ground crew participated in the ninth series of the joint air drills. Also known as Xiongying (or Eagle), the drills are conducted each year in both countries on an alternate basis. Pakistan Air Force Chief thanked Commander PLAAF General Ding Laihang, for sending a large contingent to Pakistan despite coronavirus pandemic. The next round of the exercise is scheduled to take place in China in 2021.

Improve combat training

The Pakistan-China air drills “will improve actual level of combat training” and further strengthen cooperation between the two air forces”, said Major Gen. Sun Hong, the assistant chief of staff of PLAAF. Air Vice-Marshal Ahmed Sulehri, the deputy chief of Pakistan’s air staff (operations), said the exercise offers “opportunity to further enhance interoperability of both the air forces”, fortifying brotherly relations between the two countries.

Pak-China defence ties

Experts say the skills attained during these exercises will help bolster practical military cooperation in the future between Pakistan and China. Defence collaboration forms the backbone of Pakistan-China relationship with frequent high-level military exchanges, joint exercises, training of personnel, defence partnerships and joint ventures, particularly the production of aircraft, submarines, tanks and other military equipment. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is “a game-changer and manifestation of our common objectives and destiny”, said Pakistan air force chief.