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Last Updated : Sep 06, 2019 03:25 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Debt-ridden Pakistan keen to buy 36 'old' Mirage fighter jets

Pakistan is an old customer of the Mirage. It has a 45-year-old dedicated factory called the Mirage Rebuild Factory at Kamra in Attock.

Sanjib Kr Baruah @sanjibkrbaruah

Intruded into and bombed by Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jets that flew in undetected, well about 80 km inside Pakistan in Balakot on February 26, Pakistan continues to swear by the French defence major Dassault-made fighter known for its sturdiness and accuracy.

Pakistan is pushing hard to buy 36 Mirage V fighters that have already been retired from service from the Egyptian Air Force but will be upgraded to fit the requirements of the Pakistan Air Force. Negotiations with Egypt are in the final stages, according to reports.

Pakistan is an old customer of the Mirage. It has a 45-year-old dedicated factory called the Mirage Rebuild Factory at Kamra in Attock. The PAF has an inventory of about 800 military aircraft with 438 being fighter aircraft, including 90 Mirage Vs and 69 Mirage III.

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The IAF's Mirage 2000 is a far more advanced version of the Mirage V, which is the ground attack variant of the Mirage III.

Based on 'older' hydraulic technology, PAF’s Mirage fighters (both V and III variants) do not have the critical ‘fly-by-wire’ capability which the IAF’s Mirage 2000 possesses. Beside the Mirage, PAF's backbone is the Chinese made JF 17 multirole fighter but which is limited by shorter range and limited payload capacity.

After upping the ante in belligerent rhetoric with India after the August 5 abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan, burdened with an economy in deep debt, is eating the humble pie.

Barely a month after suspending trade ties with India, downgrading diplomatic relations by asking the Indian High Commissioner to leave Islamabad and closing down its airspace to Indian flights, Pakistan in a reversal of its decision announced a resumption of trade with India in medicines on September 2. Faced with severe shortage of life saving drugs in its hospitals, Pakistan’s trade and commerce ministry announced that it will allow import of Indian medicines.

With its economy in doldrums, Pakistan recently requested IMF to fund support under a 39-month Extended Fund Facility (EFF) to 'tackle the imbalances and structural problems'.

"Pakistan’s economy is at a critical juncture…Without urgent policy action, economic and financial stability could be at risk, and growth prospects will be insufficient to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population," IMF said in a recent report on Pakistan.

With aggressive posturing against India in its east, a developing explosive situation in Afghanistan in the west, and combating terrorists within, Pakistan seems to be caught between the devil and the deep sea.

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First Published on Sep 4, 2019 08:58 pm
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