China Announces Sale Of 48 High-End Drones To Pakistan, Days After India's S-400 Deal

| October 9 , 2018 , 13:55 IST

Merely days after the sale of the advanced S-400 missile defence system from Russia to India was confirmed, official media of China on Tuesday said that Beijing will be selling 48 high-end military drones to its "all-weather ally" Pakistan.

The cost of the deal was not revealed nor was the delivery date, but Song Zhongping, a military expert was quoted by China's state-run Global Times as saying that the deal for the 48 high-end drones would be China's largest export deal for drones to date.

The Wing Loong II Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is a high-end reconnaissance, strike and multi-role endurance unmanned aircraft system, manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company and will be jointly manufactured, Global Times said.

According to reports, the Wing Loong II drone will in the future be jointly manufactured by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China's Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company.

China is the largest supplier of weapons to the Pakistan Army, and both the countries also jointly manufacture the JF-Thunder a single engine multi-role combat aircraft.

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The Wing Loong II, in the 10 months since its maiden flight last year in February, has had multiple live firing tests conducted, including stationary targets, moving targets, time sensitive targets and air-ground coordination.

Although US drones like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper are considered to be more advanced technologically, Washington reportedly limits their export.

In July this year, the US cleared the sale of 22 Predator Guardian drones to India, a variation of MQ-9 Reaper in a deal estimated to be worth between $2-3 billion. The deal operationalised India's status as a "major defence partner" of the US, which was first decided by the Obama Administration.