Russia may have vowed not to sell its arms to Pakistan, but India’s archrival is getting some key Russian/Soviet military equipment, surreptitiously through China, thereby jeopardising New Delhi’s defence confidentiality.
One example of such Chinese arms sales, though they do not sell full equipment of Russian origin, is the aeroengines for Pakistan’s JF-17 combat aircraft for which Russia too has given its consent, much to India’s chagrin.
China is jointly developing JF-17 lightweight combat planes with Pakistan and has provided the Russian-origin RD-93 aeroengines, an upgrade of the MiG-29 combat plane’s RD-33 aeroengines, to Islamabad for the purpose.
The Klimov RD-93 is a turbojet engine and Pakistan intends to get around 150 of these engines for the JF-17s. In August 2007, Russia signed a contract for re-export of 150 of the engines from China to Pakistan for the JF-17, though they had till then denied such plans.
With 150 engines now available to Pakistan, it could easily match India’s three-squadron MiG-29 fleet, which are based facing the Pakistani borders in Adampur airbase. Thus, the JF-17s will be the backbone of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) counter to India’s 65-plane MiG-29s fleet. India had bought the MiG-29s from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the late 1980s and has now signed a fresh agreement with Russia for upgrade of these planes.
With military sales such as the JF-17s and its RD-93 engines, no wonder China has now emerged as the world’s fifth largest arms exporter for the five-year period from 2008-2012 from being the world’s largest importer of arms till about five years ago. “China, however, does not sell any whole military equipment of Russian origin. The Chinese military systems given to Pakistan do have some parts that are of Russian origin,” a senior Indian military officer, a keen China watcher, said. According to a March 2013 report from Stockholm-based SIPRI, an international military think-tank, China’s arms exports in 2008-2012 grew by 162 per cent compared to the previous five years, of which 55 per cent were for Pakistan alone.