China to sell unmanned, strike-capable drones to Pakistan
China has agreed to sell a batch of military-grade drones to Pakistan just days after India signed a multi-billion-dollar arms deal with Russia in defiance of US warnings against military transactions with Moscow.
Pakistan's air force said Islamabad and Beijing will jointly produce 48 Wing Loong II UCAVs - unmanned combat aerial vehicles manufactured by China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.
Wing Loong-II is China’s latest high-end strike-capable drone with a payload capacity of over 400 kilograms, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle is reportedly capable of being fitted with air-to-surface missiles and TG-100 laser-guided bombs.
China's English-language newspaper The Global Times confirmed the report, describing it as the largest arms deal of its kind China has ever signed.
Chinese armed drones, which will enhance Pakistan’s surveillance and strike capabilities, are much cheaper than those the United States provides to Islamabad, the report said.
The purchase announcement, which did not clarify details of the cost, time of delivery or place and time of the agreement, made headlines in India with some military experts referring to them as “good targets for our air defense missile system."
The news about the arms deal between Pakistan and China comes just after India signed a $5.4 billion deal to purchase five Russian-made S-400 air defense systems.
The S-400 is capable of intercepting and destroying airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers and simultaneously engaging up to six targets. Russia will deliver the first battery by the end of 2020.
India and Pakistan have fought at least three wars so far and continue to skirmish over Kashmir, a divided Muslim-majority region which both countries claim in entirety.