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Pakistan establishes new Instrumented Weapon Testing Range
February 22, 2018
Sonmiani Weapon Testing Range

Pakistan establishes new Instrumented Weapon Testing Range

On 02 February, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) announced that it established a Weapon Testing Range (WTR) at the Sonmiani Firing Range.

The state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reports that the Sonmiani WTR was built with support from China. It will be used to examine and qualify both indigenous and imported munitions.

“The day marked a monumental episode in the glorious history of PAF as a state-of-the-art Weapon Test Range has been made operational to track the complete trajectory of the aircraft and launched missiles,” stated the PAF (via APP).

To qualify the Sonmiani WTR’s equipment (for real-time tracking and measuring), a PAF JF-17 test-fired a SD-10 active radar-homing air-to-air missile (AAM) and a PL-5EII infrared-guided AAM.

The PAF Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, also announced that the JF-17 is now in service with six PAF squadrons (up from five in 2017). This would total for 100 aircraft split evenly between the Block-I and Block-II. The name and base of the sixth unit has not yet been disclosed.

Notes & Comments:

The Sonmiani WTR is an instrumented testing range for evaluating munitions. Such facilities are used as part of the qualification and certification process of an air-to-air or air-to-surface munition, i.e. to test and ensure that it meets desired parameters before induction. It is the first such facility established in Pakistan.

Although inaugurated by the PAF, the WTR will be of use to the Army and Navy as well provided it is equipped to examine launch from air, land and sea. In fact, such a configuration would allow Pakistan to use this WTR to test the full gamut of munitions, be it cruise missiles, precision-guided bombs, surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank guided missiles or even tank and artillery shells. Pakistan can also test drones as well as conduct detailed comparisons between prospective munition options from abroad.

The PAF did not disclose the specific systems at use at the Sonmiani WTR, but an instrumented range could include optical-tracking, telemetry systems, instrumentation radars, meteorological station and a command, control and communication suite. Overall, the WTR’s function is to measure a munition’s accuracy, flight profile and viability under various conditions, which can come from weather and/or the altitude of the launch platform (and/or the target), among other factors.

The WTR will likely factor into Project Azm, the PAF’s long-term program to domestically develop and produce munitions. The first of these appears to be the Range Extension Kit (REK) precision-guided bomb kit for Mk-80-series of general purpose bombs and the Ra’ad II extended-range air-launched cruise missile.

  • Syed Bushra

    Thank you Quwa for explaining the function of WTR. Indeed this is an important step towards building critical infrastructure that can support ambitious projects like Azm.

  • Engr Abu Bakar

    it depends upon tracking range of radar that comprises base of a fighter if i am not wrong. form how long Is KLJ-7A is capable tracking a fighter and use BVR?.

  • Syed Hasan

    you are a senior and knowledgeable person Bilal so why don’t you edit wikipedia and put 100 jf-17s there from 86 and also any update on ah-1z?

    • sami shahid

      YES… wiki is not updated. I agree with that

  • AHMED Wajid

    Is QUWA a Pakistani forum ? What does it stand for ?

    • Abdul Rashid

      Hi Ahmed,

      Your question is answered on Quwa’s “About Us” section:

      The Quwa Defence News & Analysis Group aims to provide relevant analysis on modern defence systems and their tactical applications; our work is specially focused on the acquisitions and activities of countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

      “Quwa” is Arabic (and “Quwat” in Urdu) for “force.” It is commonly used in the titles of the various armed services branches found in the Arab world.

      Though many of the articles on here are Pakistan-related, the site is not Pakistan-specific.

  • Amjad Malik

    It’s good to know that Pakistan has such capability. Moving forward, we need that to track from the satellite as well. As it gives the result for close target or limited range only not for a thousand miles.

  • Shershahsuri

    Mr.Bilal, say something of Pakistan’s indigenous BVRAAM fired from JFT.

    • From what I understand, the PAF fired the SD-10 and PL-5EII from a JF-17 to test the new testing equipment on the ground.

  • Zees Saee

    where was air force training to shoot Ariel and ground targets before this site? whats so state of the art about this? airspace or large uninhabited land?

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