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Poland Looks to Pakistan’s Defence Market for Sales
November 17, 2018

Poland Looks to Pakistan’s Defence Market for Sales

In June 2018, the Pakistan Army’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa led a delegation to Poland with the aim of visiting the Polish Ministry of Defence and the Polish Armament Group (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa: PGZ).[1] During the COAS’ visit, photos emerged of the COAS along with several other Pakistan Army officials test-firing a number of Polish small arms, including – among others – the Fabryka Broni Radom (FB Radom) GROT or MSBS (Modułowy System Broni Strzeleckiej).[2]

Interestingly, the Pakistan Army delegation was shown prototypes of the MSBS’ 7.62×51 mm NATO variant – i.e. a new variant of the MSBS that is still under development and not officially revealed.[3] Currently, the MSBS is available in 5.56×45 mm NATO, but as a modular assault rifle design (akin to the Beretta ARX, the Česká Zbrojovka CZ-807 BREN and others), it can be chambered into 7.62×39 mm and/or 7.62×51 mm (i.e. the MSBS-7.62S and MSBS-7.62N, respectively).[4] The MSBS-7.62N is available in barrel options – i.e. 508 mm barrel with fixed butt-stock and 406 mm barrel with folding butt-stock.[5]

PGZ had cast a wide-net in its demonstrations to Pakistan. Besides small arms, the visiting delegation had the chance to see Patria-based KTO Rosomak 8×8 armoured fighting vehicle (AFV), PT-91 Twardy main battle tanks (MBT) and Rak 120-mm self-propelled mortar-firing vehicles.[6] In January, Wojskowe Zakłady Lotnicze Nr. 1 (WZL-1) invited the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to review its facility for overhauling Mil Mi-17 helicopters, which are the mainstay transport helicopters of the Pakistan Army and the PAF.[7]

PGZ’s selections correspond to numerous active and/or backburner (i.e. inactive, but with potential to be reprioritized) Pakistan Army programs, such as off-the-shelf MBT, self-propelled mortars and 8×8 AFV.[8][9] In 2016, Pakistan had also evaluated various assault rifles as part of an apparent push to supplant the Heckler & Koch (HK) G-3 and NORINCO Type-56. In response, PGZ showcased FB Radom’s MSBS in 2017, stating, “The PGZ sees great potential in cooperation with Islamabad, not only in the field of small arms but also in other areas of Pakistan’s modernization program.”[10]

These visits follow three prior high-level visits made in November 2017. These previous visits included a POF delegation led by its previous chairman, Lt. Gen. Umar Farooq Durrani to FB Radom.[11] This was soon followed by then PAF Chief of Air Staff (CAS) ACM Sohail Aman, who visited Poland to discuss the potential of collaboration in aviation. Finally, a HIT delegation led by its head, Lt. Gen. Muhammad Naeem Ashraf, also visited PGZ to discuss “potential of cooperation in the field of land-based platforms.”

PGZ’s scope is certainly extensive in that it aims to trigger Pakistani interest in a wide-range of armaments and projects in Poland. However, the oft-spoken restraints of Pakistani procurement, especially its fiscal limitations, would make it impossible for every Polish solution to be a plausible option. For example, the Rosomak AFV and Krab self-propelled howitzer (SPH) are unlikely to be feasible for the Pakistan Army to induct in the necessary numbers. Nonetheless, certain defence industry dynamics could favourably place Poland in some areas, especially in the domains of commercial licensing and bilateral collaboration.

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[1] Press Release. “General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) reached Poland on an official visit.” 20 June 2018. Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). URL: https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=4793 (Last Accessed: 01 July 2018).

[2] Remigiusz Wilk. “MSBS-7.62N disclosed!” MilMag. 23 June 2018. URL: https://www.milmag.pl/news/view?news_id=1021 (Last Accessed: 01 July 2018).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Matthew Moss. “Pakistan Interested in FB Radom’s 7.62×51 MSBS?.” The Firearms Blog. 26 June 2018. URL: https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2018/06/28/pakistan-interested-in-radoms-7-62×51-msbs/ (Last Accessed: 01 July 2018).

[5] Remigiusz Wilk. MilMag. 23 June 2018.

[6] “Visit of the Chief of Staff of Pakistan Land Forces.” Centrum Szkolenia Wojsk Lądowych. 20 June 2018. URL: http://cswlpoznan.wp.mil.pl/pl/4_708.html (Last Accessed: 01 July 2018).

[7] Press Release. “Pakistan Air Force visiting WZL-1.” WZL-1. 30 January 2018. URL: http://www.wzl1.mil.pl/lodz/pakistan-air-force-visiting-wzl-1 (Last Accessed: 01 July 2018).

[8] Daksh Nakra. “Eastern Armour: Asian spending on armoured vehicles during the next decade is likely to reach USD166 billion.” IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly. 12 January 2018.

[9] Press Release. “Malyshev Plant Goes to a New Cooperation Stage with Pakistan.” 03 August 2017. URL: http://www.malyshevplant.com/en/content/malyshev-plant-goes-new-cooperation-stage-pakistan (Last Accessed: 09 January 2018).

[10] Press Release. “Representatives of the Pakistani defense industry visit PGZ.” PGZ. 17 November 2017. URL: http://pgzsa.pl/a/657,przedstawiciele-pakistanskiego-przemyslu-obronnego-z-wizyta-w-pgz (Last Accessed: 01 July 2018).

[11] Ibid.

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