Pakistan operationalizes new naval air base in Baluchistan
April 16, 2024
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Pakistan Navy Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah. Photo credit: Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR)

Pakistan operationalizes new naval air base in Baluchistan

The Pakistan Navy operationalized its new naval air base – i.e. Naval Air Station PNS Siddiq – at Turbat in Baluchistan on Thursday, May 25. The Pakistan Navy formally commissioned PNS Siddiq in 2014.

Pakistan’s Minister of Defence, Khawaja Asif, lauded PNS Siddiq for strengthening Pakistan’s naval defence capabilities in the Arabian Sea and its westward strategic interests.

The Pakistani news publisher Dawn reports that PNS Siddiq will also function as an air transport facility in support of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

PNS Siddiq houses a runway – built to modern specifications – that can support the use of large aircraft.

The Pakistan Navy will operate maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), including its Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion MPAs, from Turbat. The Navy’s fixed-wing assets were previously concentrated at PNS Mehran, which had suffered an insurgent attack in 2011 causing the loss of two P-3C Orion MPAs.

The Pakistan Navy also operates ATR-72-based MPAs, Z-9EC anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, Westland Sea King ASW helicopters and ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles. On the same day of PNS Siddiq’s activation ceremony, the Pakistan Navy also formally received seven refurbished Sea Kings.

Pakistani government officials have also alluded that Turbat will available to aircraft from the Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Army and civilian airlines.

PNS Siddiq is the second of the Pakistan Navy’s recent strategic activations, with the preceding site being PNS Hameed, a very low frequency (VLF) radio facility for communicating with the Navy’s submarine fleet.

In parallel, the Pakistani government finalized a series of big-ticket acquisitions for the Navy, such as four MILGEM Ada corvettes from Turkey, eight conventional (likely S26) submarines from China, Azmat-class fast attack crafts (FAC) and a new fleet tanker. In November, the Pakistan Navy disclosed plans to acquire another four to six FACs to augment its force for protecting the Gwadar deep-sea port.