S-400 Triumf air defence missile system
S-400 Triumf air defence missile system.AFP

Close on the heels of India announcing the purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia, Pakistan has gone arms shipping too, ordering as many as 48 high-end military drones.

China's Global Times reported on Tuesday that Pakistan will get Wing Loong II drones from China under a deal whose financial s haven't been disclosed as yet. The Chinese government mouthpiece said in its report that the Wing Loong II drone is manufactured by Chengdu Aircraft Industrial (Group) Company and that it's a "high-end reconnaissance and strike multi-role endurance unmanned aircraft system."

The deal for 48 Wing Loong IIs will be China's largest drone deal with any country, the report added. The drone had made its maiden flight in February 2017, and an unnamed country had already placed a huge order for it before Pakistan came on board.

A military expert quoted by the Global Times said Wing Loong IIs will bolster Pakistan's air force given the fact that the US has put limits on the exports of its highly advanced drones like the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. These are technologically more advanced than the Wing Loong IIs, the report said.

The Chinese daily said Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra and China's Chengdu Aircraft company will jointly manufacture the drones.

Changing air power balance

With Russia starting deliveries of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system to India in 2020, the air power balance in the region will decisively tilt in favour of India.

Military experts believe that India's Rs 39,000 crore deal with Russia was enough to ring alarm bells in Pakistan's military establishment as S-400 is perhaps the most advanced SAM system in the world right now.

With a range of 400km, the radars of the S-400 system covers almost the whole of Pakistani airspace and can track 300 aerial targets simultaneously.