Pakistan is negotiating a deal to purchase Sukhoi-35 ‘Flanker E’ fighter jets from Russia, which is expected to be the largest defense deal between the two countries, according to IHS Jane’s.
A senior Pakistani government official confirmed the discussions between Pakistan and Russia regarding the supply of Su-35 fighter jets.
Brian Cloughley, an author, analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad commented, “The Indians would be extremely upset to the point of a major diplomatic rift.” India previously stated that Russia is crossing the “red line” for selling military hardware to Pakistan.
Defense industry analysts suggested that Russia is willing to sell advance hardware to Pakistan despite its longstanding relationship with India.
The Russian government also signed a defense cooperation agreement with the Pakistani government in November last year.
The Pakistani government did not reveal the details of the deal including the value and schedule for the delivery of the Mi-35 helicopters.
Last year, Russia and Pakistan signed a bilateral defense cooperation agreement to boost its military-to-military relations.
According to the Pakistani official, they are interested in the Su-35 fighter jets because the country’s Air Force needs a twin-engine fighter with the capacity to fly longer range than the JF-17 and to penetrate deeply into the enemy’s territory.
Pakistan’s Air Force has a mixed fleet of Lockheed Martin F16 Dassault Mirage-5s, Chinese-manufactured F-7s, and the JF-17 Thunder.
However, the official emphasized that it is “too early” to tell whether both countries will reach an agreement.
Previous reports indicated that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov revealed that the two countries are in talks on the supply of Su-35 fighter jets.
China and Pakistan partnered in producing the JF-17 Thunder fighter jet. considers Pakistan as an unreliable partner in fighting terrorist groups.Pakistan has been strengthening its relationship with Russia while facing increasing tensions with the United States regarding its efforts to fight the Islamic militants in the region. Pakistan recently agreed to purchase Mi-35 “Hinde E” attack helicopters from Russia.