In a hearing with Pakistani Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence Production, Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) requested resources for its infrastructure plans.
As per the state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), POF’s Chairman Lt. Gen. Umar Farooq Durrani brief the committee on POF’s progress in exporting goods over past five years.
However, in order to increase production efficiency, lower costs and bolster competitiveness on the global market, Lt. Gen. Durrani appealed for financial resources for POF. POF stated that 80% of its machinery is over 40 years of age, which is hindering its ability to support domestic needs and compete internationally.
“If we manage to get new machinery we will be able to give better production at cheaper rates. This will also bring us in a position to share government’s burden,” Durrani said to the committee, adding, “We are also trying our best to meet our Armed Forces requirements as well as enhance our exports.”
As per APP, Committee Chairman Lt. Gen. (retired) Abdul Qayyum supported POF’s request, stating that POF should have modern machinery to produce quality and cost-effective products.
POF is Pakistan’s sole domestic supplier of ordnance munitions, such as small-arms ammunition, artillery rounds, rockets and other explosive materials. It is also the leading supplier of small-arms to the Pakistan Army. Its product catalogue largely comprises of licensed German designs, i.e. Heckler & Koch (HK) G-3 battle rifle and MP-5 sub-machine gun as well as Rheinmetall MG1.
The Pakistan Observer reported that the Committee was also updated on POF’s product efforts, claiming that the Committee was told that “production of modern assault rifles is also in final stages.”
Notes & Comments:
In 2016, POF had undertaken several preliminary and tentative steps to recapitalize its infrastructure, add overseas markets for export and modernize its product portfolio.
During Pakistan’s biennial defence exhibition IDEAS, which took place in Karachi in November, POF signed bilateral agreements with Czech, Polish and Italian companies, possibly to source new manufacturing equipment. POF also took steps to link itself to overseas supply channels, notably with Italian ammunition producer Fiocchi wherein Fiocchi would import brass materials produced by POF (in February, POF announced that it increased its brass output three-fold to 24,000 metric tons per year).
In terms of product advancement, POF’s most notable agreement was a letter-of-understanding (LoU) with the Czech firearms maker Česká zbrojovka (CZ) to “intensively negotiate [the] delivery of complete technology for the production of small arms to [POF].” CZ had submitted the CZ-807 modular assault rifle in 7.62×39 mm for tests in Pakistan. In April, CZ held a marketing demonstration of its goods in Baluchistan wherein a CZ official confirmed the LoU, stating “Recently we have signed a letter-of-understanding with POF, and we are ready to transfer, the full transfer (sic) of modern technology from CZ to Pakistan, to POF, so we can produce the most modern and most advanced assault rifles in the world at POF.” It is worth noting that the Prague has been openly supportive of increasing bilateral defence ties with Islamabad.
It is not clear where matters stand regarding the CZ LoU or the Pakistan Army assault rifle programs a whole, but Pakistan Observer’s report regarding the recent Senate Defence Committee meeting purports that POF is pushing to bring the assault rifle program and its plant modernization to fruition.