On 06 June, Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an Italian firm (described as “M/s. Mechanica” by POF). The MoU was signed in the presence of the Italian Ambassador to Pakistan, Stefano Pontecorvo.
Comment and Analysis
Speaking to Defense News, Brian Cloughley, a former Australian defence attaché to Islamabad, noted that POF would have two major developmental programs on its radar: First, the switch to manufacturing a new standard issue rifle for the Pakistan Army. Second, upgrading its facilities. While the MoU’s specific details were not disclosed, it is possible that it concerns the latter – i.e. upgrading POF’s manufacturing facilities.
Having established a presence in a number of key overseas markets (such as Saudi Arabia), POF is going through a number of major challenges. Although the armed forces depend on POF for their ammunition needs, Pakistan’s law-enforcement agencies (LEA) have largely opted to import equipment to meet their needs. This is unfortunate considering that the LEA constitute a major user base for essential equipment – small arms, ammunition, body armour, communications equipment, vehicles, etc.
There are a number of reasons why POF is not being selected for supplying these goods, but a relatively antiquated product line and legacy manufacturing base is certainly one of them. Connecting with a vendor with immense experience in developing and producing modern small arms (as well as small arms-related goods such as sights) is a natural step forward for POF. In addition to a modernized production line, POF could also acquire valuable insights into research, design and development.
We could not find “M/s Mechanica”, but there is a firm named “Sir Meccanica.” Sir Meccanica is an industrial company that provides components for manufacturing.
It should be noted at the Italian firm Beretta – with its ARX-200 battle rifle – is competing for the Pakistan Army’s standard issue rifle requirement. However, this MoU does not necessarily mean that Beretta is being selected, the need for a new rifle and for revamping POF are two separate requirements.