In a sign of continued cooperation between the two nations, a Russian engine will be installed on Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder fighter jet.
It is hoped that the move will herald the beginning of cooperation between the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Russian engine maker, according to Sputnik News. The two nations are working together on a number of projects.
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Pakistan to install Russian-made engine on JF-17 fighter jet
“As we know, a Russian engine is being installed on the JF-17 Thunder and we are looking forward to further cooperation with the engine manufacturer in Russia,” a Pakistani official told RIA Novosti at the 2015 Dubai Air Show on Monday.
The PAC representative said that it would be beneficial for Pakistani engine specialists to receive training in Russia, while Russian experts could work to modernize facilities for engine repairs in Pakistan. The JF-17 fighter jet was originally developed as a joint initiative by Pakistan and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation. The multirole fighter will now be modified to include an ED-93 engine made in Russia.
In 1971 the Pakistani Air Force founded the PAC as a military corporation that produces systems for military and civilian use. It is now a major aerospace, defense and aviation contractor. A new era of cooperation between Pakistan and Russia could jeopardize the historically close relationship between Russia and India, given the fact that India and Pakistan are sworn enemies.
How will Pakistan-Russia relationship affect India?
Despite the danger that India could be angered by military cooperation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov claims that there should be no negative effects on Moscow’s relationship with New Delhi. In addition to the fighter jet engine, Russia is in talks with Pakistan regarding the sale of multirole Mi-35M attack helicopters and Su-35 fighter jets.
“I do not think that the contacts under discussion will cause jealousy on the part of any of the two sides,” Ryabkov told the press. He added that Pakistan is Russia’s closest partner now that the two nations are working together on multiple projects.
India has traditionally enjoyed a close relationship with Russia, while Pakistan has become closer to China. However Pakistan has entered a new phase in international relations in which it has managed to cultivate productive relationships with several world powers.
Deepening bilateral ties in a number of areas
At the same time India is growing increasingly isolated due to its refusal to do business with China. Tensions remain high between India and Pakistan, with the two nuclear-armed neighbors engaging in frequent skirmishes along the disputed border in Kashmir.
It had been hoped that relations could be thawed thanks to the accession of both nations into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but little progress has been made. Meanwhile Pakistan and Russia continue to develop bilateral relationships, including the first ever year of cultural exchange between the two nations.
The exchange is part of a program designed to deepen ties in multiple arenas. “Celebrating a year of a country is always a good idea. We have not celebrated a Year of Pakistan in Russia or a Year of Russia in Pakistan but this is an idea that we are working on. We hope that in the near future we will be able to do a Year of Pakistan in Russia,” said Pakistani ambassador Zaheer Janjua.
The ambassador underlined Pakistan’s commitment to developing ties between the two nations, which at present are “in the state of development.” However Islamabad intends to improve its ties with Moscow in areas such as politics, economics and defense.
Pakistan also maintaining close ties with China
While Islamabad develops increasingly strong ties with Moscow, it is also maintaining a historically close relationship with Beijing. The two countries are working together on a number of huge projects, including the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Pakistan has also agreed to buy a number of pieces of high-tech military hardware from China, including 8 submarines. India is concerned by the scale of these deals, especially given that part of the CPEC runs through the disputed region of Kashmir.
Another concern for New Delhi is increased Chinese submarine activity in the Indian Ocean. Now that Pakistan is set to have more submarines, India could find its backyard full of potentially hostile high-tech military hardware.
The maintenance of relations with China, increasingly strong ties with Russia and the improvement of relations with the United States show Pakistan’s recognition that it exists in an increasingly multipolar world. Gone are the days of blind reliance on one key ally, and instead it appears that Pakistan is skilfully positioning itself in a complicated geopolitical region.