ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia are currently in negotiations what according to analysts can be the largest defence deal between the two countries, IHC Jane’s reported.
“The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has discussed buying Su-35 ‘Flanker-E’ fighter jets from Russia but a final decision is yet to be announced,” the IHS quoted a senior government official as saying.
The senior government official’s remarks come in the wake of Russian media reports that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had said talks were underway for an unspecified number of Su-35s and a recent agreement for provision of Mi-35M ‘Hind E’ attack helicopters to Pakistan.
“It is too early to say if a deal will conclude and the terms,” the official said highlighting Russia’s willingness to sell advanced military hardware to Pakistan despite Moscow’s longstanding ties with India.
“Pakistan’s interest in the Su-35 was driven by the PAF’s need for a twin-engine fighter that can fly for a longer range than the JF-17 and penetrate more deeply into the enemy’s territory,’ the official revealed.
Pakistan currently relies on a mixed fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16s, Dassault Mirage-5s, Chinese manufactured F-7s and the JF-17 Thunder, which is co-manufactured by Pakistan and China.
Last month, Russia agreed to sell state-of-the-art Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan in what is seen as a ‘paradigm shift’ in Moscow’s policy to increase defence cooperation between the two countries.