On 04 January 2020, the Pakistan Navy’s (PN) Director General of Public Relations announced that the PN officially inducted “marinized” ATR-72 aircraft and LUNA NG unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).
Though the PN showed two ATR-72 aircraft, only one of them was configured as a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA). This aircraft was from the conversion order the PN awarded to Rheinland Air Service (RAS) in 2016 – the first of these re-configured MPAs was inducted in December 2018.
The PN’s ATR-72 MPA is also known as the RAS-72 Sea Eagle. The RAS-72 Sea Eagle is configured with the Leonardo Seaspray 7300E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, FLIR Systems’ Star SAFIRE III electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) turret, and Elettronica’s electronic support measures (ESM) suite.
Tying these systems together is Aerodata AG’s AeroMission mission management suite. AeroMission has a sensor fusion algorithm, which offers the RAS-72 crew with situational awareness across multiple areas.
The RAS-72 is also capable of anti-submarine warfare (ASW), it can deploy lightweight ASW torpedoes.
The second newly inducted ATR-72 is not an MPA, but it will operate in a “cargo/para-drop role [that] will provide added flexibility to the (PN’s) Special Forces’ operations.”
As for the LUNA NG, its manufacturer – EMT Penzberg – terms it as a “tactical unmanned aircraft system” (TUAS). With a take-off weight of 110 kg, the LUNA NG is a lightweight UAV, but its payload options include synthetic aperture radar (SAR), signals intelligence (SIGINT), ESM, and EO/IR. It can fly for over 12 hours.
The PN said it will use the LUNA NG to monitor its creeks and coastal areas. The PN also announced that its long-term development plans include the “acquisition of Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV).”
The UCAV could be in reference to the PN’s reported interest in the Turkish Aerospace Anka-S during the 2018 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS).
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