The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has commissioned the Chinese-built ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft during a ceremony at an airbase in Karachi.

The aircraft is capable of detecting hostile aerial and sea surface targets at long ranges irrespective of their height. It was inducted into the PAF’s No 4 Squadron, as reported by the Press Trust of India.

Pakistan Air Force air chief marshal Tahir Rafique Butt said: "Re-equipping the squadron with this state-of-the-art aircraft will enable PAF to effectively counter all threats against Pakistan’s aerial frontiers and add a new dimension to the national security.

"Induction of Karakoram Eagle AWACS would revolutionise PAF’s operational concepts.

"Induction of Karakoram Eagle AWACS would revolutionise PAF’s operational concepts."

"With its induction, PAF is transforming into a modern versatile and capability based force."

In a statement, PAF said: "With the addition of AWACS, Pakistan air defence is now able to look deeper in enemy territory, be it land or sea.

"After an early detection, AWACS can direct its own fighter aircraft to intercept or neutralise the emerging threat, well before it can threaten our national assets.

"AWACS ability of detecting sea targets would also enhance the capabilities of the Pakistan Navy."

The Karakorum Eagle AWACS modified version of Shaanxi Yunshuji-8 medium range transport aircraft. It is designed specifically for the PAF, and consists of a Chinese active electronically scanned array radar mounted on the Y-8F600 platform.

The aircraft is equipped with a sophisticated integrated sensors and communications suite. It is capable of maintaining a link with ground command and control centres to provide pilots with a comprehensive air picture.

The PAF ordered four ZDK-03 Karakoram Eagle aircraft from China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) under a $278m contract in 2008, as reported by Pak Armed Forces.com.