Pakistan's Growing Defense Industry Goes High Tech
The growing reliance on armed drones (aka predators) by Americans in Afghanistan and Pakistan's FATA region to target militants has been making headlines with increasing casualties. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Drones designed and manufactured in Pakistan have also been making news since IDEAS 2008 event in Karachi, Pakistan held in November of last year. Integrated Dynamics, a privately held Pakistani company that drew attention at IDEAS 2008 expo, is a developer and manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Integrated Dynamics is a full-service UAV systems provider based in Karachi, Pakistan. The company has been in business since 1997 and designs and integrates UAV systems primarily for the Government of Pakistan, the Pakistan armed forces and export. The company says they are committed to the use of the UAV system as a scientific and defensive tool that can be used to save lives and monitor potentially hostile environments for human personnel. The company also makes drones such as the turbojet-powered Tornado decoy, which can fly up to 200 kilometers, and emit false radar signals to "confuse enemy air defenses into thinking they are attacking aircraft," according to Defense News of Pakistan.
In addition to supplying drones to Pakistani military, the company exports its products to Australia, Spain, South Korea and Libya and the United States. The US homeland security department uses its Border Eagle surveillance drone for border patrol duties. Integrated Dynamics' products cost only a fraction of the cost of comparable products made in the United States and Europe. ID UAV prices start from about $ 20,000 while comparable UAV products made in the West start from about $ 200,000, according to the Karachi-based company. The ID models have operational range of 20 to 1600 kilometers.
Integrated Dynamics began developing the Firefly mini-rocket UAV in late 2004 in response to Pakistani army operational requirements for a high-speed, short-range observation system that could be used in the high-altitude environments of northern Pakistan. A basic system costs around $3,000 and comprises four rockets, a launcher, a carry case, datalink and a PDA-based ground control station.The UAV company is an example of a new generation of private defense companies in Pakistan that have grown with the emerging needs of Pakistani military and export opportunities to both military and civilian sectors abroad.
Arms as Pakistan's Cottage Industry
Pakistan has a long history of arms manufacturing as a cottage industry. The dusty little town of Darra Adam Khel,only a half-hour drive from Peshawar, reminds visitors of America's Wild West. The craftsmen of this town are manufacturers and suppliers of small arms to the tribal residents of the nation's Federally Administered Tribal Areas who carry weapons as part of their ancient culture. The skilled craftsmen of FATA make revolvers, automatic pistols, shotguns and AK-47 rifles. Until five years ago, the list also had items such as anti-personnel mines, sub-machine guns, small cannons and even rocket launchers. Pakistani government has forced the tribesmen to stop making heavy assault weapons to try and prevent the Taliban and Al Qaeda from getting access to such weapons.
Pakistan's arms industry has come a long way from making small arms as a cottage industry in the last few decades. The US and Western arms embargoes imposed on Pakistan at critical moments in its history have proved to be a blessing in disguise. In particular, the problems Pakistan faced in the aftermath of Pressler Amendment in 1992 became an opportunity for the country to rely on indigenous development and production of defense equipment.
Pakistan's Military Industrial Complex
The country now boasts a powerful industrial, technological and research base developing and manufacturing for its armed forces and exporting a wide variety of small and large weapons ranging from modern fighter jets, battle tanks, armored vehicles, frigates and submarines to unmanned aerial vehicles and high tech firearms and personal grenade launchers for urban combat. Some of these items were on display at IDEAS 2008, the 5-day biennial arms show held November last year in Karachi, Pakistan.
Pakistan has become an increasingly important player in the world arms industry, a global industry and business which manufactures and sells weapons and military technology and equipment. Arms production companies, also referred to as Defense Contractors, produce arms mainly for the armed forces of nation states. Products include guns, ammunition, missiles, military aircraft, military vehicles, ships, electronic Systems, and more. The arms industry also conducts significant research and development. Pakistan's major defense manufacturing companies are owned and operated by Pakistan's military. According to Business Monitor, Pakistan's defense industry contains over 20 major public sector units (PSUs) and over 100 private-sector firms. The majority of major weapons systems production and assembly is undertaken by the state-owned PSUs, while the private-sector supplies parts, components, bladed weapons and field equipment. Major PSUs include the Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF), Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) and the Pakistan Machine Tool Factory. Multinational presence in Pakistan is limited, although joint production or engineering support in the development of certain armaments has recently occurred with companies such as DCN International and the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.
IDEAS 2000, Pakistan's first major arms show, was organized after former President Musharraf assumed leadership of the country in the wake of the 1999 bloodless coup that toppled the Nawaz Sharif government. At the show, the former president emphasized the need to grow Pakistan's defense industry and private sector involvement in R&D, manufacturing and marketing of arms. Held every two years since the year 2000, the show has become a runaway success. It has helped Pakistan and other friendly nations to show off their wares, find customers, share knowledge, build bilateral partnerships, encourage scientific innovation and learning among young people and made visitors and Pakistani citizens more aware of the role defense industry plays in national defense and economy. Held in November last year, International Defense Exhibition and Seminar 2008 attracted 256 companies including 162 foreign and 94 Pakistani companies. Among the largest foreign pavilions, Turkey had 28 companies and United States had 22. Other major exhibitors came from China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, the Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Among other products, Pakistani companies showed off JF-17 fighter plane built by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in partnership with China's Chengdu Aircraft, Al-Khalid main battle tank, POF eye capable of shooting around corners and launching grenades in urban combat, and a variety of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) designed, developed and built in Pakistan.
World Arms Market
It is estimated that yearly, over 1 trillion dollars are spent on military expenditures worldwide (2% of World GDP). Part of this goes to the procurement of military hardware and services from the military industry. The combined arms sales of the top 100 largest arms producing companies amounted to an estimated $315 billion in 2006. In 2004 over $30 billion were spent in the international arms trade (excluding domestic arms sales). Many industrialized countries have a domestic arms industry to supply their own military forces. Some countries also have a substantial legal or illegal domestic trade in weapons for use by its citizens. The illegal trade in small arms is prevalent in many countries and regions affected by political instability.
Pakistan's Arms Business
In a July 2008 interview with Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, Major General Mohammad Farooq, Director General of the Defense Export Promotion Organization, indicated that collaboration with the United States had increased in manufacturing armored personnel carriers "with transfer of technology". There have been unconfirmed reports that Pakistan is manufacturing Humvees for the US military in Afghanistan. General Farooq also claimed that Pakistan's defense exports have tripled to around $300 million because of the quality of its ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. He said exports to South Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries had increased significantly. It has been reported that Sri Lanka has purchased cluster bombs, deep penetration bombs and rockets and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) from Pakistan.
General Farooq said optical instruments like night vision devices, laser range-finders and designators, laser threat sensors, artillery armor mortars and munition, mine detectors, anti-tank rifles, missile boats, different types of tear gases, fuses of unarmed vehicles, security equipment and sporting and hunting guns were also being manufactured in Pakistan. "The fuses are being purchased by countries like Italy, France and Spain," he said.
In reply to a question, he said Pakistan's military exports were higher than India's. "Indians started working on Arjun tank but, they are yet to induct it in their army, while Pakistan has built and handed over Al Khalid tank to the army, although it started the program later," he said.
Lately, Pakistan has come under severe criticism by human rights groups for being a leading manufacturer and exporter of land-mines, cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions.
High-Tech Aerial Warfare
The three main branches of Pakistani military are evaluating UAVs made in Pakistan and the rest of the world for purchase and deployment. Pakistan has been eager to boost its capabilities for high-tech aerial warfare and restructure and reorient its military to respond to the new and emerging challenges of combating insurgents. A number of public and private sector companies have been engaged in research, development and manufacturing of unmanned aerial vehicles as a part of this initiative. The public sector companies include Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Air Weapons Complex and National Development Complex.
|Pakistan made Shahpar UAV|
Here's a brief run-down of the status of Pakistan's three military services as gleaned from Jane's and other publications:
Pakistan Air Force
As part of its effort to go high-tech, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) will formally induct unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into service for the first time in 2009, the chief of the PAF has told Jane's. In addition to the Bravo+ UAV, which, according to PAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed, has been built indigenously by Air Weapons Complex, the PAF will also receive the Falco UAVs produced by Selex Galileo of Italy. The two systems will be used mainly for aerial reconnaissance and information gathering, although the PAF will later also induct UAVs equipped with weapon systems to carry out offensive operations. "This capability we are developing fairly rapidly; we are becoming mature. It is part of our operations now and I look forward to seeing this in real operations by [the] beginning [of] 2009," ACM Ahmed reportedly told Jane's.
The Uqaab, Pakistan Army's drone designed and built by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, is the first step towards the eventual mass production of a Pakistani UAV. Technical details shared by Pakistani officials suggest that the Uqaab can fly at an altitude of about 15,000 ft and is equipped with day- and night-vision equipment. There have been unconfirmed reports that Pakistan has discussed with China the possibility of further developing the Uqaab to carry a weapons payload, according to Jane's.
Pakistan Navy is reportedly interested in deploying vertical takeoff and landing UAVs on its ship. As a part of its plans to purchase and deploy UAVs, the Pakistani navy has completed trials of Austrian Schiebel Camcopter S-100 and Swedish made Cybaero autonomous VTOL UAVs from a Pakistani frigate in the Arabian sea in April 2008.
Pakistan's UAV Industry
Growing interest by Pakistani military and foreign companies and governments has helped spawn several private Pakistani UAV companies specializing in air-frames, launch and propulsion, flight control, tele-command and control systems, signal intelligence, training simulators, etc. Some of the private companies involved in UAV development and manufacturing include Integrated Dynamics, East-West Infinity, Satuma and Global Industrial Defense Solutions. Between the public and private sector UAVs developed in Pakistan, there is a long list of products including Bravo and Uqaab by Air Weapons Complex, Heliquad by East-West Infinity, Nishan Mk1 , Vision MK1 , Vision MK2 , Nishan TJ 1000, Tornado, Border Eagle, Hornet, Hawk, Hawk Mk1, Shadow and Vector by Integrated Dynamics Pakistan, Flamingo, Jasoos and Mukhbar by Satuma Pakistan , Bazz and Ababeel by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. These products vary in payload type, size and weight, engine types, range, flying altitude, endurance and launch and recovery systems. Growing domestic and international demand and increasing competition among suppliers is expected to produce significant improvements in capabilities and quality of the UAV products offered by Pakistani companies. In addition to Integrated Dynamics described above, here are three more UAV companies in Pakistan:
One of the companies at the forefront of UAV development is East West Infinity (EWI). EWI's latest products are the Heliquad micro tactical UAV and the Whisper Watch signals intelligence (SIGINT) package.
The Heliquad was first displayed in prototype form at the IDEAS2006 defense exhibition. Equipped with a tiny camera, it can relay pictures back to troops or special forces in an urban environment or in the field, giving them a tactical reconnaissance capability. Being exceptionally small and powered by four electric motors, Heliquad is highly stealthy and represents the cutting edge of EWI's electronics miniaturization. SIGINT has become more important with ongoing anti-terrorism operations on the western front and in the tribal areas. Designed for militaries unable to afford high-end, dedicated SIGINT platforms, the company says its Whisper Watch platform is most effective when aerostat-mounted, as the platform is stationary and airborne for longer.
Satuma (Surveillance and Target Unmanned Aircraft), founded in 1989, is small UAV specialist company based near Islamabad, Pakistan. Satuma products include Flamingo, Jasoos and Mukhbar UAVs. Its biggest customer is Pakistan's military.
Global Industrial Defense Solutions:
GIDS, the largest of the private defense sector companies, has a UAV division, which produces a whole range of operational and training UAVs.Its biggest customer in Pakistan's military. The UAVs developed by GIDS have been extensively flight tested by military. GIDS ground control stations have an interactive and user friendly interface, where flight parameters and auto-pilot mission planning, and execution is done in addition to reception of high-enbd crisp quality video transmitted over an encrypted digital link.
Headed by a retired PAF Air Vice Marshall, GIDS has emerged from a combination of 7 Pakistani private defense companies that include AERO (Advanced Engineering Research Organization), IDS (Integrated Defense Systems), MSL (Maritime Systems Pvt Limited), ACES (Advanced Computing and Engineering Solutions), IICS (Institute of Industrial Control Systems), ATCOP (AI-Technique Corporation) and SETS (Scientific Engineering and Technology Solutions). Other than UAVs, its major products include anti-personnnel, anti-armor, incendiary, anti-runway, electronic impact and time-based fuses, electronic warfare equipment, navigation systems, optical fiber and optical fiber cables. Anti-tank Wire Guided Missile System known as "Baktar Shiken" made by IICS, a component of GIDS.
Pakistan's growing defense industry is going high tech to keep up with the challenges of a changing world that requires advanced weapons and new strategies to maintain peace and stability in a hostile neighborhood. At the same time, Pakistan's defense industry is contributing to scientific, technological, industrial and economic development of the nation by training and employing thousands of citizens. The investments made in defense production are a good bargain for the companies, their investors and the taxpayers of Pakistan to help ensure the nation's economic, political and national security against both internal and external threats.
Note: Abbreviated version of this article was first published by Dinar Standard.
Here's a video report about Pakistan's weapons development:
Here's a video clip of UAV Uqaab flight test:
Here's a video clip about Pakistan's arms expo IDEAS 2008:
Jane's Defense Industry Briefing on Pakistan
World Military Spending
India-Pakistan Military Balance
Pakistan's Arms Industry
Pakistan's Space Capabilities
Foreign Origin of India's Agni Missiles
Pakistan Defense Production
Chuck Yeager on Pakistan Air Force
Introduction to Defense Economics