Pakistan is hoping to acquire a range of Russian electronic support measures (ESM) equipment as a means to plug existing capability gaps.
Speaking to the Russian news outlet Izvestia at the Army 2016 forum, the Director General of Pakistan’s National Radio and Telecom Corporation (NRTC) Mohammad Masoud, said:
“We are interested in Russian technologies so that we can fill existing voids … we were interested in surveillance systems, high-protection PCs and laptops, GPS and drone signal jammers, equipment for radio reconnaissance and control, covert information-gathering systems.”
The NRTC head also stressed that there are many areas of interest to Pakistan, especially considering that Russia is one of the world’s leading sources of developing electronic warfare technologies.
Notes, Comments & Analysis:
One of the main functions of the NRTC is to produce the radio and communications equipment for the Pakistani armed forces. Considering that the statement of interest came from the head of the NRTC, it would suggest that Pakistan is not only looking to acquire equipment off-the-shelf, but may also be seeking some measure of technology transfer and local production.
Furthermore, the references made to electronic support measures (ESM) equipment – such as the electronic intelligence (ELINT) and electronic jamming systems – denotes intent on NRTC’s part to begin moving into new fields beyond its current staple of providing communications equipment.
Russia will likely be interested in exporting equipment that could be used by Pakistan’s intelligence, law enforcement agencies and counterinsurgency (COIN) forces, such as communications intelligence and short-range radio jamming gear.
This is a significant market in that it has comparative scale and an immediate need for such equipment. With Russia seeking to market its defence industry as an able vendor for COIN-relevant equipment, Pakistani orders would be a boon in terms of both profit and credibility or marketability.
ELINT, signals intelligence (SIGINT), and electronic warfare (EW) equipment for use against conventional threats on Pakistan’s Eastern Front may not come as readily. Once more, sensitivities with New Delhi and the risk of losing lucrative long-term contracts will play into Moscow’s decision-making.
That said, it must be noted that Russian ELINT and SIGINT technology is not as conspicuous as the Su-35 or other complete big-ticket solutions. In other words, Russian ESM exports to Pakistan could be low-key – but relatively valuable – thanks to the more secretive nature of this equipment.