According to a press release issued by the Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP), Romania and Pakistan have – in principle – agreed to enhance their defence relationship.
The visiting Romanian delegation was urged by Rana Tanveer Hussain, the Minister of Defence Production, to visit Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF), Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) to identify potential areas of cooperation.
Officials from the Pakistan MoDP have expressed interest in acquiring Romanian-built Puma medium-lift transport helicopters, which were originally designated as the IAR 330. Although the production of IAR 330s had ceased in 2004, Airbus Helicopters (the principal owner of the Puma design) is currently in the process of reviving the production line in Romania, but for the improved H215 Super Puma.
Airbus Helicopters is eager to market the H215 Super Puma as a cost-effective alternative, particularly to developing world militaries. It appears Pakistan is keeping an eye on Airbus’ plans to transfer the H215 production line to Romania, hence its interest in the platform. Pakistan could potentially even get its Puma helicopters upgraded in Romania as well, perhaps re-build airframes with enough life in them.
It is important to note that the Puma has proven to be a generally versatile and durable platform in Pakistan, if an avenue exists to keep those birds flying or to replace them affordably, Pakistan will likely pursue it. The H215 Super Puma built in Romania could be a viable route.
Besides the Super Puma, it is unclear where else Romania could assist Pakistan, at least in a manner where its support would yield substantively improved results. A lot of what Romania produces could be sourced from China, Pakistan’s leading supplier of big-ticket weapon systems. At this stage, Romania is looking to revitalize its defence industry, it will be some time before new solutions emerge.