Pakistan denied entry to one of the world’s largest air shows in France

Pakistan was denied entry and was not sent an invitation to the world’s largest and most well-known airshow in Paris according to insider reports. The show which went on from June 19th to June 26th at Le Bourget Aerodrom near Paris had several prestigious countries including India from South Asia, while Pakistan which has been invited in the past, lost a spot this year.

Pakistan was invited in the past, and even claimed to receive special attention in the past as it unveiled Pakistani fighter jet JF-17 in 2019, but this time around, Islamabad could not even get an invitation.

It is unclear on what grounds Pakistan was denied entry, but it is a known fact that Pak-French relations have nosedived in the last few years given Pakistan’s attacks against the French President Emmanuel Macron, given his support to the supposedly blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammad published in France by Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, that was attacked in 2015 by terrorists killing 12 people.

The Paris Air Show has been a major platform for Pakistan defence forces eager to find buyers for its many joint productions, like the JF-17 Thunder fighters.

Pakistan Aeronautical Industries had booked space at the show in Hall 5 Stall C 223. Three Chinese-Pakistan-made JF-17 Thunder Fighters were to be placed for a sales exhibit.

Some media reports suggest two reasons for the French authorities cancelling the Pakistani exhibit. Reportedly, the star exhibit, the joint China-Pak combat aircraft, JF 17, has had serious failures in its systems including the engine, airframe and avionics. Also, when China and Pakistan signed the agreement on joint production of the JF-17 in 1999, it was touted as a combat jet comparable to Mig-29 and Mirage-2000. But those claims came to nought as the single-engine flying aircraft had experienced repeated failures and poor reliability since its inception. A large number of engines have developed cracks on engine guide vanes, exhaust nozzle and frame stabiliser. In fact, the engine problem bedevilling the JF 17 has become more complicated with China finding it difficult to access spare parts and other assistance from Russia due to sanctions. Another persistent criticisms levelled against the RD-93 aero engine has been its propensity to emit black smoke which made it an easy target for the enemy pilot. It put the JF 17 pilot at a disadvantage during close aerial combat, the principle reason for the JF 17 induction into the Pakistan Air Force.

Another possible reason reportedly for the cancellation is Pakistan’s non-payment of dues to the air show organisers.

The 54th edition of the prestigious air show was being held for the first time after the cancellation of the show due to Covid in 2019. More than 2,500 companies presented aircraft parts and production equipment, spacecraft, satellites and telecommunications, engineering and maintenance. The show is known as a premier platform for aviation decision-makers to interact.

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