At 2019 Dubai Air Show, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) showed illustrations of some of the projects its in-house design office – the Directorate of Aviation Research Innovation and Development (AvRID) – is currently undertaking under Project Azm and other initiatives.
PAC/AvRID showed both an illustration of its new high-speed target drone and photo of its test launch.
Photo from ‘Trailer23’ via Pakistan Defence (Source)
The Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production’s (MoDP) yearbook for 2017-2018 states that the ‘indigenous design and development’ of a target drone was one of AvRID’s major projects. The first test flight of the target drone was scheduled for Q1 2019; PAC’s photo indicates that this test took place.
In addition to providing a training system for fighter and air defence crews, the target drone can also set the groundwork for more complex drone development. For example, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions in the US extended its experience in target drones to design and develop the XQ-58A Valkyrie, a new loyal wingman drone meant to operate alongside manned fighters in combat operations (Flight Global).
PAC/AvRID also showed an illustration of the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) they are developing under Project Azm, the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) umbrella program for designing, developing and manufacturing next generation combat aircraft.
According to the MoDP, the MALE UAV was to have had its maiden test flight in June 2019. It is not known if this test flight took place, or if it was delayed. Nonetheless, the MALE UAV concept shown at the 2019 Dubai Air Show shows that it will be weaponized and, potentially, equipped with a satellite communication (SATCOM) system for beyond-line-of-sight communication/remote-operation.
In May 2018, PAC signed a memorandum-of-understanding with Turkey’s Havelsan to collaborate on UAV mission computers, ground control stations, sensor integration and weapon control computers. In April 2019, PAC also released a tender for the “procurement of data link items” for a MALE UAV.
For More Information on Pakistan’s UAV Programs, See: