Is The Chinese JH-7 Fighter-Bomber An Answer To The PAF Deep Strike Needs?

Is The Chinese JH-7 Fighter-Bomber An Answer To The PAF Deep Strike Needs?
Credits: Unknown Via Airrecognition.com

The dominant requirement for deep attack in a major regional conflict is to strike the enemys centers of gravity and to do it rapidly, accurately, and with intensity. (Centers of gravity, in the parlance of modern strategy, are those critical points in the opponents order of battle and infrastructure against which the use of force has greater effect than if the same force were applied elsewhere. These targets tend to lie deep in enemy territory.)

The objective is to attack these centers of gravity “in parallel”–all of them at once–rather than serially. The capability to do that is new and growing.

To adress Paksitan deep strike needs Pakistan Air Force is also consider acquiring a fighter jet of similar capability.

According to The Diplomat, the Indian Air Force is equipped with aircraft that are both qualitatively and numerically superior to much of the PAF’s inventory. In the event of an all-out conventional war, the PAF’s limited frontline air assets are at risk of getting overstretched.

More worryingly for Islamabad, the Indian Navy operates a sizeable independent air arm, which can be utilized in a conflict scenario to target Pakistan’s coastal industrial hub of Karachi. The much smaller Pakistan Navy does not operate fighter jets, instead of relying on the PAF for aerial maritime strike operations.

This creates additional problems for the PAF, which is tasked with confronting the IAF along its long vulnerable eastern border as well as countering the Indian Navy’s air arm on the southern coast. The PAF’s problem of diverting much-needed air assets to the coast can be resolved by the acquisition of a cost-efficient aerial strike platform for the Pakistan Navy.

Given Islamabad’s intimate relationship with China and the economic problems currently gripping the country, acquiring the JH-7 heavy strike fighter can both provide its navy with much needed aerial strike capability as well as free up PAF’s core assets to engage with the IAF for supremacy over the battlefields of Kashmir and Punjab.

The JH-7, while utilizing an old air frame, is a highly effective aircraft for deep strike operations. The JH-7 also complements the Pakistan Navy’s combat doctrine, which is based on the anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) blueprint. The PN’s three Khalid-class submarines form the linchpin of their A2/AD strategy, with the wartime objective of preventing an attempted blockade of the vital Karachi port by the Indian Navy.

Acquisition of the JH -7 by Pakistan would provide Islamabad with the lethal capability to considerably limit the maneuvering capacity of the Indian Navy in the proximity of Karachi port.

Also, the JH-7, with its longer combat range, heavy payload capacity, and ability to fly under enemy radar cover provides Islamabad with an offensive capacity targeted at India’s protracted western coastline. Hence, acquisition of the JH-7 by Pakistan serves both defensive and offensive purposes.

The improved JH-7A variant currently in service with the PLA Air Force is capable to carry over seven tonnes of armament, including four KD-88/YJ-83 anti-ship missiles.

The capability to carry long range anti-ship missiles, which can be launched more than 100 miles away from their targets, means that the JH-7 is able to utilize an asymmetric “hit and run” strategy before enemy air defenses can effectively engage with it. This doctrine was perhaps most aptly demonstrated by the Argentine Air Force during the 1982 Falklands War, as French Super Etendard strike aircraft armed with Exocet missiles sank two British warships.

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