The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has formally announced it will commence development of a 5th-generation fighter, medium altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and munitions under the banner of “Project Azm” (i.e. resolve or determination).
In his speech for inaugurating the Kamra Aviation City initiative, the PAF Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Sohail Aman outlined the program objectives of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), the newly established Aviation Design Institute (AvDI) and Air University’s Aerospace and Aviation Campus.
“Our engineering and operational staff have indigenized few core capabilities which are truly high-tech … [the] initiative of Project Azam was thus encouraged, which is the designing of the 5th-generation fighter aircraft, [MALE] UAVs – which are [in the] final stages of design, development of advanced weapons – few of them already produced – and other key projects…”
Air University Aerospace and Aviation Campus Kamra is an expansion campus of Air University Islamabad, which was founded in 2002. ACM Sohail Aman stated that the campus will “provide the desired impetus for cutting-edge indigenization programs, strengthen the local industry and harness the demands of foreign aviation industry by reducing … imports and promoting joint research and production ventures.”
In its 2015-2016 yearbook, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) states that AvDI was formed “to spearhead design and development activity … [with its] working model [hinged] on leveraging existing National Human Resource and facilities (sic).” The MoDP adds that AvDI will manage the design of “state of the art next generation (sic) aerospace vehicles.”
ACM Aman added that the Aviation City initiative will provide valuable economic opportunities for local industry entities, and in turn, support the growth and value of Pakistan’s aviation industry.
ACM Aman’s recent statements follow his earlier commitments to localizing the PAF’s supply channel – at least in terms of its 5th-generation fighter – by assigning a significant amount of the design, development and production work of the 5th-generation domestic sources.
Notes & Comments:
From the onset, PAC’s AvDI has been responsible for three marquee aviation programs under Project Azm: the 5th-generation fighter, a MALE UAV and munitions development. ACM Aman stated that the design work of the MALE UAV is in its “final stages”, suggesting that the UAV is a relatively near-term factor.
In February 2017, Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS) said that it was considering developing a MALE UAV, but AvDI had been tasked to undertake the program. Moreover, Pakistan did not act upon the availability of MALE UAVs in China and Turkey, such as the Wing Loong-series and Anka, respectively. This is despite the prior industry ties formed with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) over the CH-3-based Burraq and Anka, respectively (in 2013 TAI contracted PAC to produce parts for the Anka).
However, Pakistan opting for an original design instead of an off-the-shelf acquisition does not preclude it from seeking collaborative support from outside parties. Pakistan’s suppliers have supply opportunities at several key stages, be it the airframe, propulsion, electronic subsystems (e.g. electro-optical and infrared sensor turrets) and potentially weapons. But the PAF’s emphasis on localization implies that many of these systems will eventually be sourced domestically, though that could leave the room for co-production partnerships (which appears to interest Pakistan).
The other near-term – or rather, already active – program is advanced munitions development. The complete systems the PAF ACM mentioned likely refer to the Range Extension Kit (REK) glide-bomb, which was cleared for use from the JF-17 in March and the Ra’ad II air-launched cruise missile (ALCM).
The PAF requires munitions for current and future platforms, which provides ample opportunity for the industry, especially in the realm of air-to-air missiles (AAM) and guided air-to-ground munitions (AGM). Potential off-the-shelf purchases, such as the Denel Dynamics A-Darter AAM, could be sought from South Africa under transfer-of-technology and co-production terms. However, new munitions are also being developed domestically. In its 2015-2016 yearbook, the Pakistani MoDP listed the development of several new munitions, such as “multi warhead bombs” and “anti soft-avionics bomb.”
AvDI’s long-term endeavour is clearly the 5th-generation fighter program (FGF). In the past several years, several factors emerged which analysts thought would shape the PAF’s next-generation fighter pursuits, most notably the rise of the AVIC FC-31 Gyrfalcon. While the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) is clearly progressing in developing the fighter, it is unclear if the PAF will pursue it. If not the FC-31, then realistically only two other alternate courses remain: the TAI TFX and an original design.
Pakistan has been billed as a prospective partner in the TFX, Turkey’s next-generation fighter effort. On repeated occasions since 2016, Turkish government and industry and Pakistan MoDP officials confirmed the link. However, the Pakistan MoDP’s statements regarding the matter had only verified Ankara’s invitation, but it was unclear if the approach was commercially oriented (akin to PAC’s work in supplying Anka parts) or in relation to possible PAF procurement.
The PAF itself did not comment on TFX, but aviation journalist Alan Warnes (who is directly in touch with the PAF) reported in May that the TFX is “likely to figure in the PAF’s new generation fighter requirement.”
While the TFX could be a factor, it is unlikely that it could be considered a truly independent and sanction-proof solution in as far as the PAF’s unique interests and realities are concerned. Fundamentally, the TFX will be a Western fighter, and while that could be an attractive option to begin supplanting the F-16s from the 2030s, British and European technology protection and costs would limit the TFX’s relevance to PAC, at least in comparison to a Chinese or original design.
The alternate scenario would be an original design. In some respects, the PAF’s messaging regarding the FGF, AvDI and the Kamra Aviation City seems to point towards an original design effort. However, unless the PAF wants to repeat the arrangement in place for the JF-17 (such as China being responsible for engine integration and testing or manufacturing JF-17 prototypes), it would need to make capital investment in aviation development infrastructure in Pakistan. Besides cost, time will also be required to build requisite human resources – e.g. engineers and technicians – to undertake the continual development work.
Although the Kamra Aviation City has ambitious goals, Pakistan will likely seek overseas support, and this would be a factor in any originally designed fighter. Given the political and economic realities, Pakistan’s principal partner in this endeavour would be China.
In fact, Pakistan realistically has no other industrial and technology source, especially with comprehensive competency in aircraft manufacturing, to partner with for the FGF other than China. Granted, the likes of Turkey, South Africa and Ukraine could provide support in specific areas (e.g. subsystems), but none of them can compensate for the support of a whole aviation powerhouse such as China. China has built the technology infrastructure and human resources base to develop two 5th-generation fighters and, with the right compensation, is broadly willing to support Pakistan’s defence development requirements.
However, acquiring Chinese support need not mean acquiring the FC-31. Pakistan could be interested in partnering with another Chinese firm such as the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG), with whom PAC is already partners with for the development and production of the JF-17. This bilateral familiarity can also be a factor in the PAF’s next-generation fighter plans.
The PAF could consider drawing upon CAIG’s success in the J-20, but for a lightweight and lower-cost application. In fact, a clean-sheet approach could also reflect the PAF ACM’s statements from 2016, where in regards to the FGF, he said the PAF was thinking in terms of “beyond” fifth-generation design elements. China itself could also be thinking along those lines (and paying attention to Europe’s Future Combat Air System), which could provide AVIC incentive to engage in another program.
On the other hand, Pakistan could simply concentrate on an existing and nearing program and gradually build its aviation industry infrastructure around that program. This would be a risk-averse option, but one that could happen under the pressure of financial constraints and urgent requirements.
The PAF and the Government of Pakistan are also aspiring to have Kamra Aviation City be a home to civil aviation development. Pakistan’s Minister of Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal had expressed hope that Kamra will roll-out next-generation fighters as well as jetliners. Quwa will discuss this aspect as well as the PAF’s goal to strongly link defence, industry and academic endeavours in a subsequent article.
Visit Quwa for background on ACM Sohail Aman’s earlier statements regarding the FGF and its importance to driving indigenization and the PAF’s hope to see active electronically-scanned array radars produced in Pakistan.
An excellent article Bilal. Much appreciated.
Lets hope MERIT prevails. We need to MAXIMISE our domestic human resource potential & utilise our expatriate human resource input to fulfil our lofty aspirations.The way our finance minister Ishaq Dar is performing, leaves a lot of ????. Nevertheless a good initiative, Credit goes out ACM Sohail Aman.
Good start, hopefully one day Pakistan will become a great country for aviation industry.
BTW what about F16s made in india, does that deal with LM and india effect us? Is there any chance of IAF inducting F16s?
LM and the Americans in general want to sell F16s to India. However I think within the IAF some people see it as a jet coming to the end of its life with no real potential for growth in terms of hardware. If the Indians were really ambitious they would push for F35s off the yanks instead and ditch the FGFA which is shaping up to be a disappointment with the Russians very reluctant to hand over key technology to the Indians even though the Indians have paid for a stake in its development..
F16 block 70 is good opportunity for india only if USA is ready to allow 1 full technology(radar or engine) to be built in India by general dynamics india/tata
F16 block 70 will cost 80-100mill$ and it’s urgent need for iaf after mmrca rafale Fiasco .
India can easily buy/license produce 200 f16 block 70 by 2030 and build 100 tejas by 2025 to replace migs..
India believes that f16 block 70,rafale are at par/bettter that Chinese 5th gen aircraft so it can wait for few more yrs to negotiate and let T50/PAk Fa mature
NO. we are not interested in machine which cannot supercruise.
INDIA should only focus on AMCA as there are FINANCIAL disputes with RUSSIA
on FGFA as there economy is woresened after CRIMIEA incident. oh RUSSIA has agreed to full TOT but the plane is not up to mark asthey lost interest in it after SU-35. we have only paid very small fraction of 25 billion. our economy can still sustain it
No F-16 will be made in India.Indian Government has learned the lesson from the treatment Pakistan received from Yankees.
i dont think IAF will go for F-16 even if it is block70 not because it is obselete but because the IAF test pilots have said that INDIA should reject all F-16 and GRIPEN-E
and should focus on ramping up production of TEJAS MK1A and MK2 (i think there wont be any prototype). as per the deal is concerned its just that LM wants to clear its production line in USA for making 2000+ F-35. neither they have dumped on us nor we are over excited with this deal. you think that a big shopping mall has moved from KARACHI to ISLAMABAD
A really good step, although a bit late, but that is expected with the plethora of problems facing Pakistan. Also, the statement of Ahsan Iqbal is quite encouraging, that Kamra should also work towards the development of commercial aircraft, especially smaller planes for domestic use.
Although unrelated, you mentioned in a previous article that the MoDP yearbook also points to the development of a Vertical Launch System for Pakistan Navy. Any word on that Bilal??
first fund local AESA project which was demonstrated by KUST university i think
Developing AESA radar system is not a big deal
you would have one if it is not a big deal. your best friend does not have this till now(not tested so far)
Just recently my colleague told me of Quwa.org. Good work Bilal, keep it up. I was simply amazed by quality of your research and authenticity, and with u daily posting articles. Just wondering how u manage it on daily basis. Keep up the good work…..
a 20 25 year project may be.
lets see if dasu dam gets completed or this aviation complex. i know they dont have a direct comparison but one will be completed by government and other by airforce.with projects of this magnitude lets see who wins. may allah grant success to both of these entities.
As already stated a long term project but 20 25 years is not a practical and relevant estimation so far. Dasu dam and 5th generation are even beyond comparing apple and oranges having no comparison at all. so all in all the comment is sort of irrelevant
This news made me laugh… start collecting coins .. one day they will turn into billions PAF needs to have 5th generation stealth fighter. Its not that they can’t have but it just happens that everything which is not American or European is so inferior and Chinese technology is only used when there is absolutely no other option. Sad. PAF could have bought so many planes Chinese reversed engineered using prominent Russia planes.
LOL i don’t think that PAF will conduct R&D for from scratch .China’s CAIC ‘s J 20 is already in service and it has ties PAF.Also Turkey is working on TFX and has worked on F 35.PAF will surely benefit from experiences of China and Turkey who are our closest allies even if Pakistan does not join TFX or procure J 31.PAF is a highly professional and one of the best air forces in the world and knows its path.It will surely go for a 5th gen Aircraft and will make it a reality soon Inshallah
Only 8 J-20 prototypes are in Services. Chinese claim 20 are on order but plane still has to prove itself before it can be declared ready for service.
SORRY champ. TURKEY has no role in development of F-35. TURKEY is a 3rd level partner in the program which will license produce 100 F-35 and pay the USA so they can recover somewhat of 1 TRILLION DOLLER invested and making a c++p.(not me, many people from USA say this)
An excellent effort made by PAF. but i think it will take a long time to develop a new fighter due to economic and political constrains. but its a new hope which will become a reality in sha Allah.
Pakistan should join TFX as it will be a high tech and more speedy solution
as explained it will be costly and prone to sanctions as multiple subsystems are from west.
Could you name one of the systems prone to sanctions?
All the European and Us systems used in it are prone to section and i believe that there will be so many of them.
Hi Bilal, Is su-35 deal dead for PAF?
SORRY the deal is cancelled by RUSSIA
If i’m not mistake i think this is respond to India which Modi has visit Israel for Israel military technology.
this cannot be a reply. our indegenous 5 gen prototype is slated for first flight in somewhere in 2022-23. if it is a response then it is too late
What is the source of your information.
First develop a worthwhile 4th gen fighter..then think of 5th n 6th
Yes, like India right?
Says the very long named dude who’s country took nearly half a century to develop a worthless piece of junk that even their own airforce is reluctant to induct
What a comment brother
Bulls eye sir
that is why we are taking 123 of it with an AESA radar.
I am so glad that so many Indians are also there to advise PAF with their ingenious ideas what to do and are so much concerned about PAF and Pakistan’s welfare.Well you will be glad to know that JF 17 block 3 is nearing production which will be a 4+ generation fighter.This happened only in space of 15 years that JF 17 is entering its third version with already five JF 17 squadrons operational and JF 17 used in precision strikes .PAF is pride of nation and knows its way forward so just keep calm
dont sound so happy. CHINA is not helping in your space programme SUPARCO
and see how far behind you are from ISRO starting 8 years earlier from us.
I THINK YOU GET THE POINT
Pakistan has no pretensions to being a “world power” like India does. We just want to do enough to keep the monkey off our back.
To poste 7 replies on one post might be a record Zardari ji what time was it
What abt jf17 . Not like ur failed structure mirage type tejas . F16 will replace this project bcz u now that tejas still need 3 decade to b operational.
Jf17 isn’t Pakistani designed,developed. It’s as much Pakistani as mig21 licensed produced in India of 80s.
40 countries including nigeria,myanmar and Pakistan can assemble aircraft while only 12/13 countries can design,manufacture aircrafts system possesing military industry in descending order : usa France Russia UK Israel= china japan Korea Germany Italy india=Ukraine=brazil
Even your tech ally Turkey hasnt developed a fighting aircraft.
By the way f16 block 70 is 4.5 gen aircraft and tejas has orders of 120 aircrafts as of now.
F16 block 70 orders is to augment low rafale nos
Foc criterion for tejas exceed capability and spec of jf17 block 2 by any indicator
Well Mr Fanboy this thread is not about Tejas or any indian fighter.If JF 17 is not a good fighter and inferior to Tejas or it is some copy of rejected Mig 33 then you need not to worry.Hold your peace and chill.I had read some where a little ago that Tejas was grounded because its landing gear did not work but still it is much superior than JF 17.In IronFist exercise held by IAF Tejas missed ground targets by a big margin but we accept it is still superior to all future blocks of JF 17 because on paper it has all the capabilities of a 4.5 gen fighter.No Country other than India could make such a super fighter and speaking of Turkey, well they just perhaps worked on F 35 but it was, i think, they just painted it.They should learn something India’s R&D
I just want to give a visual aid. http://imgz.star.com.tr/imgsdisk/2013/12/12/121220130144185872914_2.jpg
We are very happy and proud of great achievements of our great Turk brothers.At least one muslim country is on the right path.There is no comparison between India and Turkey in tech.I just wanted to silence this guy
HEY YOU GUYS STARTED THIS
was JF-17 block-1/2 failures, because you have bought very small quantity which is even less than total order for TEJAS
That advice does just as much good to Pakistanis as your outsourced services do to the US.
A worthwhile effort and a worthy goal. However we will have to be very careful and make efficiency and excellence our watchwords. It is not buildings but people. A culture change is needed from usual inefficient Pakistani institutions which are many scattered around the country, full of nepotism, run by little tyrants, copy pasting research or producing papers that would not get into a real peer reviewed science journal. Time limited and results oriented projects should be taken on board. All this needs proper funding too. Let’s not be shy of asking for help from the Turks or the Chinese. Like the Turks produce T-129 based on A-129 Mungusta. I think our project is under the army and not civilian? We definitely don’t want another DRDO experience of developing LCA etc taking decades and eventually produced a substandard product heading towards obsolescence.
PAF Is the most professional organization of all the forces and civilian organizations
Hi Steve! I wouldnt have really commented here if you had not brought India into this. But since you have already brought India into this discussion lets get started.
Firstly, To be brutally honest, what pakistan is doing at the moment is manufacturing a jet that was almost entirely designed by China– with pakistani inputs in terms of their pilots dictating handling qualities etc–but nothing more than that. Even with this pakistan is probably constructing perhaps 52% of the total plane.
There is no doubt that India took close to a decade to first fly LCA and another 1.5 decades to iron out issues and make it combat worthy. Kindly note the time of commencement of any project is taken from the day funds were sanctioned–and that happens to be early 90s for LCA. But what you fail to notice at the moment is that this was the first time a jet was designed entirely in India. In terms of Research and development– that forms the basis of your future endevours, Pakistan is no where close to India. In case you have any doubts do visit
1) SCIMAGO and
you will come to know where both countries stand in 2016.
The reason why you have been able to criticise DRDO is simply because Indian system is much more transparent with better checks and balances. How many times have you heard of any audit conducted of any pakistani defence program or how pakistani military spends their resources?–I am sure you wont be able to answer that question– because that question is simply a no go zone for civilians in your country.
As usual you fail to get the gist of the post and start ranting because we say we don’t want to emulate India in our new plans. You start the usual praises of India and criticising Pakistan, which is not what I commenting about or this thread is for that matter. It’s to do with the time taken and the end result dude. DRDO is c**p, which you know it is. We have no desire to emulate you guys. Everyone knows India is a bureaucratic nightmare and we don’t want to know any details or excuses, thanks. You’re welcome to your ‘checks and balances’ taking many decades 🙂 Oh one more thing. We all know after 33 years LCA is 100% Indian, better than F22, fully inducted, and with no foreign parts lol.
Yeah.like your HF-24 Marut designed by Kurt Tank trying to power it with Orpheus engines, so what happens to your Tejas with the Kaveri as a non starter?
LCA took decades because INDIA was trying to develope an indigenous afterburning turbofan engine which you can only dream about.even CHINA has no reliable TURBOFAN ENGINE. and we were 72-75 percent succesfull. we could have been 100 percent if my ancestors have would have thwarted CONGRESS back in 90s.
another thing that we did not had a partner like CHINA who is perfect in stealing and cloning designs.
EXAMPLE- sucess of SUPARCO and ISRO. i think you got it now
you can very easily critcise DRDO because they our so called media (NDTV, TOI) which are low on TRP want something to make eye catching headlines.
Look dude please don’t give excuses like Congress govt or turbofans etc. We are not really interested. All we know is we don’t want to emulate DRDO, as it is a recipe for bureaucratic delays and substandard products. Good luck with turbofans. 😉
Really good step & seems like PAF is on the right path. Anyway, PAC should also develop at least a medium range Surface to Air Missile system along with Fifth Generation Fighter & Male UAV’s.
Indeed a good and imperative step taken by paf, and we hope so, espacially the fast and ever changing security envoirnment in the region , a bit late but a right one, now need to take these projects as a priority , and collaborating with local industry and univercities to share their job and knowledge , inshallah dream will come true , it will take time but possible inshallah.
These news of starting the 5th generation UAV and fighter aircraft design is great news. Wish I could be part of it. I would work day and night for Pakistan for free.
Commendable gesture, Sure we will prosper In Sha ALLAH,
Journey of a thousand miles , start with a single step. Much appreciated guesture of indiginization. Good number of Pakistanies work over seas involved very high tech requsite technologies. Hope paf can tap that resourse
Bilal Khan…Are we looking at FC-31 or TFX or the clone?Its not clear if they meant to license produce EJ200 or WS13 in Pakistan?The intention looks good!
From what I can see based on the information available … it seems the PAF might procure one off-the-shelf (TFX or FC-31) to begin replacing the F-16s and get another lighter and smaller jet developed in-house. The latter (i.e. local) program would be developed to encompass emerging technology trends (e.g. optionally piloted vehicles) and eventually replace the JF-17. So: two programs, only one of which will be TFX or FC-31, but not both.
Bilal is the new 5th generation fighter going to be an extension of jf-17 like jf-17 block 4 or is it going to be a new project?
PAKISTAN also has shown the intention to buy J-31. if they do so then i dont think you will have enough funds to sustain the program unless CHINA helps amid your economy. but you may get a semi 5 gen fighter like F-15 SILENT EAGLE
This is not the answer to my question, I simply asked that is it going to be jf-17 block 4 or a new program.
Thanks for clarifying Bilal, because the news could also be interpreted as procuring around 40 J-31, and building in house an advanced version of TFX. Engine development is going to be a major hurdle but is essential. Again getting hands on single crystal blade technology is not easy. An interesting article explaining the basics:
If we invest in Materials Science and Engineering R & D, it will have big payoffs in the future, not just in defense, but across multiple industries. MS&E is the basis of most modern technology; semiconductors, lasers, biomedical, nuclear, ceramics, plastics and polymers, you name it. We need a cohesive and strategic policy, not piecemeal.
A short summary for TF-X project: (1) Turkey has 4 main industries for aircraft production: TAI, TEI, KALE and ASELSAN. TAI and TEI were founded to produce f-16 and f-110 turbofans under licence. Since then, TAI has been licence-producer, partner and developer for many types of aircrafts. KALE is responsible for f-35 engine parts. Those three industries are capable of modern production technologies like composite production thanks to western partnership. (2) Turkey paid SAAB to create three configuration for TF-X project and acquisition of airframe design software. TAI has also signed 100 million sterlin deal with BAE to take assistance. Deal includes construction of wind tunnel in Turkey, development of a new engine to produce under licence in Turkey and to give assistance on airframe design. (3) Turkey is already capable of producing avionics and ammunitions for aircrafts. Targeting and jamming pods, HMDS, cockpit display, smart munitions (KGK, HGK), bunker busters (NEB), miniature bombs (MAM-L,C), cruise missiles (SOM-J). ASELSAN also revealed AESA radar and air to air missiles projects. (4) Project has already a great partner like Pakistan which is capable of developing and producing JF-17 fighter, ballistic and cruise missiles.
Strength of Turkey is strength of Pakistan. It is a matter of great satisfaction to see Turkey’s advancement in avionics and aerospace industry.
I believe the same for Pakistan, brother. Proud of you guys as a Muslim nuclear power.
IT IS GOING TO TAKE 30+ YEARS WITHOUT HELP OF CHINA
After 8 design of Fifth-generation jet fighter (9 if Iran efforts taken seriously) in the world it will be good to know how “original design” is going to look like. I feel if it China is involve in the project then there is surely we know how its going to look like..