Pakistani officials have reportedly begun talks with their Chinese counterparts to buy the FC-31 stealth fighter jet, according to a news report.
Pakistani Defense Production Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain confirmed the discussions were underway, according to an article published by Asia News International, a news agency based in Delhi, India.
The fifth-generation aircraft was unveiled earlier this month at the biennial Zhuhai Air Show. It was the event's star attraction, marking the first time Chinese authorities allowed a plane that was still in development to be displayed to the public.
The display came ahead of President Barack Obama's visit to Beijing for the APEC summit. It also came right before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had planned to visit U.S. allies in the Pacific.
While the twin-engine plane made by Shenyang Aircraft Corp. sort of resembles the U.S. military's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter made by Lockheed Martin Corp., it reportedly has design defects that cause it to lose altitude as it enters into turns.
The FC-31, which is the export version of the Shenyang J-31 that has been flying since 2012, is powered by two Russian-made Klimov RD-93 engines, a variant of the propulsion systems found on the Mikoyan MiG-29. It's designed to fly close air support, air interdiction and other missions.
The Pakistani air force is reportedly considering buying between 30 and 40 of the Chinese aircraft to replace American-made F-16s, even though it's more likely to employ tactical rather than stealth aircraft in actual missions to support ground troops.