Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Islamabad-Beijing: unabated brotherly ties

China pushes America ultimatums, defiantly defending its ally in the rivalry with India, and is also preparing to build up its military and provided technical assistance. From the military-political situation in South Asia in recent days, suddenly smelled of the characteristic chill of the classical ultimata of the Great Powers of the model of the 19th Century.

According to the newspaper Times of India, the Chinese Foreign Ministry demanded that the United States to "respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan", clearly noticing afterwards that "any attack on Pakistan would be regarded as an attack on China."

The statement comes amid demonstrative visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in Beijing. As a result it was announced that Pakistan will receive an additional 50 JF-17 fighters, and "immediately and without advance payment." Simultaneously, Islamabad almost demanded that Beijing speed up the deployment of the port of Gwadar China's naval base.

Such are the consequences of the recent operations of U.S. special forces in Pakistan, which resulted in the killing of one of the leaders of "Al-Qaeda," Osama bin Laden. Islamabad, apparently, has every reason to seriously fear the possibility of a new military intervention by Washington, and tries to strengthen its position in the Chinese account.Including the supply of arms.


Targeting Mughal Throne

Pakistan - an old friend of China in South Asia. In foreign policy, Beijing is difficult to find a reliable strategic partner.This has its explanation as the deliberate harshness of Chinese diplomats, who frankly placed Washington on the place.

Two rival for supremacy in Asia - India and China walking in circles, as a melee in the ring, waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. In this duel the most important role for Beijing plays Pakistan, diligently and consecutively "fattened” for the opposition to Delhi.

Discreet, but not a secret for expert to acknowledge Chinese assistance (including indirect - through the North Korean specialists) in the development of Pakistan's missile and nuclear program - it is just the tip of the iceberg. The Islamic Republic has long been firmly "sitting" on the procurement of Chinese weapons.

But far more serious are the Chinese investment in infrastructure in Pakistan. For example, a high-speed railway and automobile highways from Tibet through Pakistani Kashmir, according to Indian sources, maintained by military engineers of PLA.

Another such project was the construction of the Chinese in Gwadar deep sea port with a view to the establishment of a naval base. Both of these design fully fit into the strategic threads attempted by Beijing, designed to control Pearl zone of the Indian Ocean by a chain of military bases and the "strong points" of controlling transport infrastructure. Purpose - to neutralize India's position in this region in a wide arc of Mozambique to Indochina.


Strengthening the Air Force

Pakistan since 2007 has received from China 30 fighter aircraft JF-17. This is very noticeable on the background of the supply of aviation services, which is now available in Islamabad. The Pakistan Air Force is quite plentiful, but it is made of obsolete machines, sometimes 60-70s production (Mirage III), or a "belated" technology (like the same Chinese J-7, based upon  - Soviet MiG-21, exported to China in 1988).

Such a set of machines don't compete to the Indian Air Force that have a significant number of fairly modern fourth generation equipment (MiG-29B, the Su-30MKI, Mirage 2000). Highlighted in the Pakistani fleet only four dozen American F-16A / B block 15, passed in the mid-80s, and even a squadron of their more modern younger brothers - F-16 C / D block 52 +, just received by Islamabad in the past year.

Update: Another Block-52 Procurement by Pakistan

Another fifty Chinese fighters will add to the Pakistani Air Force combat capabilities. Especially when you consider the probability of  battle of the two light fighters, more or less independently developed and produced by the giants of South Asia: Chinese JF-17 and the Indian Tejas.

One may wonder about whether this hasty shift towards Beijing may block access to U.S. military aid, which also is traditionally important for Islamabad. However, as can be seen in the relations of the current administration in Washington with the Pakistani leadership has matured, and Pakistan gets a handsome aid package in time of crisis. For example, deepening alliance with China, may be of little importance to US than delicate topics such as Islamic radicalism in South Asia.


Russia via China?

A potential deal for the sale of the JF-17 is very peculiar for domestic defense industry. As is known, JF-17 was originally designed for the Russian RD-93, a modification of the RD-33 - "heart" of the MiG-29. The Chinese version of the JF-17 for internal use (FC-1) must be equipped with engine WS-13, although the experts is very skeptical about this unit. Chinese-Engine is far behind, thus a full-time engine for the fourth-generation fighter with more or less decent lifespan is not yet possible. Especially large issues relating to the conduct of such basic industries as materials science, metallurgy, and specialized metal working: for example, turbine blades and discs as the Chinese do not work out what they are and are buying them from Russia (including black markets).

Therefore, the export version of the aircraft is delivered with Russian engines strictly, this gives Moscow some kind of leverage to trade in the light fighter, which is a direct competitor (especially for the price) of our MiG-29. Thus Pakistan has received JF-17 with a Russian engine & it will continue to do so.

Russia gave a license to India for the manufacture of RD-33 series 3, the Air Force which are armed with about 70 aircraft MiG-29B/UB series 9-12. Losing the recent tender for 126 medium MMRCA fighters ended the contest with Russians and Americans ousted.

In any case this doesn't give a free hand to Moscow for military cooperation with Islamabad - it is extremely difficult to do, and besides, the Pakistani market for us with the best deals will never be as profitable as India.

China avoids even the slightest weakening of  Military-Technical-Cooperation with  Pakistan which defines a new dimension to MTC between Russia and India. Clearly, Delhi has great concern over the dramatic steps Beijing has taken which are ill suited for Indian national interests, so Russia's military exports to India may be given an extra incentive.

Cyril Belov


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