This is a continuation of Quwa’s series, the Pakistan Navy Rises.
In part-two, we highlight the Pakistan Navy’s (PN) plans to procure new aviation assets.
In an interview, the Navy’s Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi outlined that the PN intends to modernize across the board. New surface combatants and submarines are in the procurement pipeline, but details are beginning to emerge about aviation and support.
Confirming earlier reports, the CNS had stated that the PN wishes to procure a new long-range maritime patrol aircraft (LRMP). The CNS termed the P-3C as a LRMP, but the newly inducted ATR-72 as a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) – i.e. two different categories of aircraft.
In other words, additional ATR-72 MPAs are unlikely to be on the roadmap to supplant the P-3C, a new or different aircraft platform will be sought. However, few specifics are available about the intended type or configuration of the new LRMP, though one can imagine that Pakistan will value relative affordability.
The Saab Swordfish cannot be a factor as Saab has opted to stop marketing the platform. However, many of the Swordfish’s subsystems, including its main radar, electronic support measures (ESM), electro-optic and infrared (EO/IR) turret, are commercially-off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions.
In theory, Pakistan can look into a bespoke solution using a platform of its choice with those COTS systems. In fact, the PN’s ATR-72 MPA already uses the same radar, ESM, and EO/IR as the Swordfish; the challenge would be finding a larger and longer-ranged platform as well as compatible munitions…