Crashes raise concern about Pakistani air force

Pakistani air force

"The JF-17 program was pushed through during my tenure of office because we knew we couldn't live with these old Mirages and some of our old Chinese planes for too long," said Mahmood, who served as air force chief from 2006 to 2009.

The current head of the air force, Tahir Rafique Butt, told Pakistan's Senate defense committee at the end of November that the force was struggling to modernize its equipment and technology because of a shortage of funds, said the head of the committee, Mushahid Hussain.

While Pakistani military spending makes up about 20 per cent of the government's budget, the air force is lower down the totem pole than the powerful army.

Hussain said the air force was doing the best with what it has, but the recent spate of crashes "was linked to use of technology that is fast becoming outmoded and obsolete".

"That reinforces the argument the air force was making to us about a lack of resources," said Hussain.

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