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Pakistan and China begin joint air exercise

ISLAMABAD (PTI):  The air forces of Pakistan and China on Wednesday commenced a joint exercise designed to deepen practical cooperation and improve the actual-combat training level of the two sides.

The joint air force exercise "Shaheen (Eagle)-IX" started on Wednesday at an operational air base of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in Sindh province.

A contingent of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), comprising combat pilots, air defence controllers and technical ground crew, was participating in the exercise, the PAF said in a statement.

The opening ceremony of the exercise was jointly witnessed by Deputy Chief of Air Staff (Operations) Air Vice Marshal Waqas Ahmed Sulehri and Assistant Chief of Staff, PLAAF, Major General Sun Hong, it said.

"The joint exercise will improve the actual level of combat training and strengthen practical cooperation between the two air forces," Sun said.

Welcoming the Chinese contingent, Air Vice Marshal Sulehri said that the "joint exercise will provide an opportunity to further enhance interoperability of both the air forces, thereby fortifying brotherly relations between the two countries".

Shaheen-IX is the ninth in the series of Joint Air Exercises which is conducted each year in both countries on alternate basis. The first such drill was held in Pakistan in March 2011.

All weather friends, China and Pakistan share close military ties. China helps Pakistan to jointly produce JF-17 fighter jets and other armaments.

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