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Pakistan Defence Review: Updates
November 20, 2018

Pakistan Defence Review: Updates

Pakistan and Russia Reportedly in Talks to Upgrade Pakistan’s T-80UDs

Pakistan is reportedly planning to sign a contract with Russia that would see Russia upgrade the Pakistan Army’s T-80UD main battle tanks (MBT).[1]

Speaking to Russian News Agency RIA Novosti on the sidelines of the 2018 International Military-Technical Forum (Army 2018), a Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) official, Brigadier Nauman Anwar, stated:

“We have purchased T-80 tanks from Ukraine that would like to modernize to the modern state … in a few months negotiations will end and we will be able to exchange specialists, who will come to Pakistan and help us modernize armored vehicles.”[2]

The Pakistan Army operates 320 T-80UD MBTs, which it had ordered from Ukraine in 1996 for $650 million US. However in 2016-2017, it had appeared that Ukraine would upgrade Pakistan’s T-80UDs, especially as Pakistan had signed a contract with Ukraine in March 2017 to supply 88 tank sights and undertake a pilot program for upgrading five of the T-80UDs.[3] In November 2016, Pakistan had also signed a memorandum-of-understanding (MoU) worth $600 million US which had planned for upgrades (and 200 new engines).[4]

However, with HIT speaking to Russia it would appear that the pilot did not proceed as hoped. It is unclear how (e.g. in terms of subsystems or remanufacturing) Russia will upgrade the T-80UDs. In fact, Brig. Anwar told RIA Novosti that neither the cost or number of tanks (slotted for modernization) have been defined, outlining that the matter is still tentative. HIT’s Brig. Anwar expects negotiations to conclude in “months.”

The news also follows the inaugural session of the Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC), which concluded in August 2018 and is considered the “highest forum of defence collaboration” between Russia and Pakistan.[5] If inked, the T-80UD upgrade project would amount to the second marquee defence program between Pakistan and Russia and, of particular note, the first that largely aims to boost Pakistan’s conventional capabilities (as opposed to counterinsurgency or counterterrorism).

In terms of the T-80, it should be noted that the MBT’s developmental path split alongside the dissolution of the Soviet Union – i.e. the Russian and Ukrainian T-80-lines are different, with the former still using an engine based on a gas turbine platform. It is unlikely that any Pakistani upgrade would involve the engine; rather, the focus is likely to center on electronics, armour and munitions, especially since Pakistan intends to undertake the upgrade domestically at HIT (instead of shipping the tanks to Ukraine or a third-party).

Pakistan Bolsters its Artillery with Surplus Howitzers

On 17 August 2018, the Pakistan Army received a shipment of 25 M109L tracked self-propelled howitzers (SPH) from Italy’s Leonardo. This is the fifth M109L shipment to Pakistan since May 2017…

Steel-Cutting Ceremony Held for Second Damen OPV

On 14 August 2018, the Pakistan Navy (PN) and Damen Shipyards signed-off of the construction of the second of two Damen 1900 offshore patrol vessels (OPV) slotted for the PN…

PRSS-O1 and PakTES-1A are Now Fully Operational

On 14 August, the state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported that the PRSS-O1 (i.e. Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite) and PakTES-1A (i.e. Pakistan Technology Evaluation Satellite) had become fully operational…

Pakistani Companies Reportedly Slated to Buy Kazan Ansat Helicopters

According to Russian Helicopters’ CEO, Andrey Boginsky, a number of “Pakistani customers” (apparently private sector actors) are in the process of procuring Kazan’s Ansat lightweight utility helicopters.[6]

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[1] “Russia can modernize for Pakistan Ukrainian tanks T-80.” RIA Novosti. 24 August 2018. URL: https://ria.ru/defense_safety/20180824/1527186218.html (Last Accessed: 25 August 2018).

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Ukraine, Pakistan sign first contracts to upgrade Pakistani T-80UD tanks.” Ukraine News Agency Interfax. 04 March 2017. URL: https://en.interfax.com.ua/news/economic/407144.html (Last Accessed: 25 August 2018).

[4] Press Release. “Ukrainian defence industry companies to receive US$ 600 million order.” Ministry of Defence Ukraine. 23 November 2016. URL: http://www.mil.gov.ua/en/news/2016/11/23/ukrainian-defence-industry-companies-to-receive-us$-600-million-order/ (Last Accessed: 25 August 2018).

[5] Press Release. “The visit of the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Colonel-General Alexander Fomin to Pakistan ended.” Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. 07 August 2018. URL: https://function.mil.ru/news_page/country/more.htm?id=12189966@egNews (Last Accessed: 08 August 2018).

[6] “Pakistan plans in the near future to buy Russian helicopters “Ansat”.” RIA Novosti. 24 August 2018. URL: https://ria.ru/economy/20180824/1527149464.html?inj=1 (Last Accessed: 26 August 2018).

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