As part of the Italian Navy’s visit to Pakistan, conducted by the Bergamini-class frigate ITS Carabiniere, the Italian defence industry reportedly made a marketing push in the country.
As per the Daily Times, Leonardo, MBDA, Elettronica and Fincantieri held a press conference onboard the ITS Carabiniere and “briefed the press about their [respective] companies’ expertise and willingness to explore Pakistan’s market for defence products.”
Notes & Comments:
Italy is one of Pakistan’s leading Western suppliers of defence systems. In 2013, Pakistan and Italy signed a memorandum-of-understanding – designated the “Strategic Enhancement Plan” (SEP) – to enhance bilateral ties in various areas, including defence. This was reiterated in 2016.
Italy’s largest big-ticket sale to Pakistan was of 10 MBDA Spada 2000-Plus batteries short-to-medium range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in 2007. The Spada 2000-Plus sale was valued at 415 million euros (in 2007) and included RAC-3D radars, 750 Aspide 2000 missiles, as well as infrastructure for maintenance and testing.
Leonardo sold Falco unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to the PAF, which are now co-produced with Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). The PAF uses the Falco for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Currently, Leonardo is fulfilling a program to provide Pakistan an undisclosed number of AW139 utility helicopters for emergency medical services as well as search-and-rescue operations.
The marketing efforts with the recent visit may suggest that Italy senses other opportunities in Pakistan. For example, Leonardo had marketed its Vixen-1000E active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar to the PAF for use on the JF-17, and Beretta’s ARX-200 is among the rifles competing to replace the Pakistan Army’s Heckler & Koch G-3 7.62×51 mm battle rifle.
The Pakistan Navy’s modernization plans may also be of interest. Although Pakistan’s cost sensitivity would likely keep it away from pursuing Fincantieri’s ship designs, Leonardo and MBDA might see weapon and sub-system opportunities in the Navy’s surface warship procurements. For example, if the Pakistan Navy inks the MILGEM corvette purchase from Turkey, Leonardo and MBDA could offer anti-ship warfare, anti-submarine warfare and/or anti-air warfare solutions for the ships.
Elettronica is a developer and producer of electronic warfare (EW) and electronic countermeasures (ECM) systems. It has solutions for many applications, including fighter aircraft, helicopters, drones and surface warships. One of its most recent products is the EDGE Escort Jamming Pod, which Elettronica claims will “increase the survivability and success of [an] entire attacking force and offers both unique performance and installation capabilities.” The EDGE could be pitched to the PAF for use on the JF-17 Thunder.