During a visit by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani to Beijing in late May, it was reported that China is to provide 50 Chengdu JF-17 Thunder multirole fighters to Pakistan, and that China will pay for the aircraft. The report comes at a time when Pakistan’s relations with the U.S.–its other principal warplane supplier–have soured over the May 2 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
When it comes to defense coverage, AIN naturally focuses on airborne systems and platforms, including some very high-tech stuff, of course. But my visit to the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Conference and Exhibitionin London last month was a reminder that what happens on the ground is equally, if not more, important.
With America on a major terror alert for the commemoration yesterday of the anniversary of the September 11 attacks (U.S. officials raised the warning for the first time to Code Orange, just one tier below the highest level of danger), the focus that would have been placed on security anyway this week took on a new and palpable urgency.
If you’re not the type to fret over conspiracies about black helicopters and shadowy figures in trench coats, you might want to inject a little paranoia into your life. Industrial espionage is a serious threat, warn security experts, but the perpetrators probably are not who you’d expect.
This past March the White House authorized the sale of F-16s to Pakistan, a move that ends a 1990-imposed embargo on sales of military aircraft and spares to Islamabad. Pakistan reportedly wants initially to buy 24 aircraft, but the Bush Administration has not placed any limits on the total number of aircraft that the Pakistanis could purchase over the next several years.