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Analysis: Pakistan Navy’s New LRMPA Project
October 18, 2020

Analysis: Pakistan Navy’s New LRMPA Project

On 07 October 2020, the outgoing Pakistan Navy (PN) Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Zafar Mahmoud Abbasi, announced that the PN is moving ahead with its new long-range maritime patrol aircraft (LRMPA) project. Adm. Abbasi revealed that the PN ordered one twin-engine commercial jet aircraft to operate as the platform for the new LRMPA. The PN is currently planning to acquire a total of 10 new LRMPAs.

The PN had announced its interest in a new jet powered LRMPA in September 2018. The PN stated that it was open to acquiring the system “from any source, including the U.S.”[1] However, by March 2020, the PN opted to take ownership of the LRMPA program by pursuing it as an original project.

The first step to this project was releasing a tender for one twin-engine jet aircraft with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 120,000 lbs to 140,000 lbs and ferry range of 4,000+ nautical miles. The PN had also added that the aircraft’s “major components” – such as engines, flight control system, landing gears, and other critical inputs – must be free of ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) coverage.

For the second step, the outgoing CNS revealed that the PN will template the new LRMPA’s onboard suite with that of the RAS-72 Sea Eagle. The RAS-72 is a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) based on the ATR-72 – the PN contracted the conversion work to Rheinland Air Service (RAS) GmbH in Germany in 2016.

The PN did not disclose a timeline for when the LRMPAs will arrive, but the previous CNS stated that the PN issued the contract for the first unit. Using the RAS-72 as a reference point, the PN could induct its first LRMPA in 2022 or 2023. However, the actual timeline would also depend on the PN’s design specifications, the project’s technical complications, funding, and political factors.

Aircraft Platform

In an earlier article, Quwa had determined that the PN’s aircraft tender narrows the platform selection to one of the Embraer Lineage 1000E. If it trims its range requirements to 2,500+ nautical miles, it can also consider the Embraer E190-E2/E195-E2 and the Airbus 220. If the PN relaxes its MTOW requirements, the Sukhoi Superjet 100 and Bombardier Global 6000/7500/8000-series.

However, if taken strictly, the tender clearly points to the Lineage 1000. Though a variant of the Embraer E190-series, the Lineage 1000E is no longer in production. Reportedly, there are 28 Lineage 1000E aircraft in service, primarily with private operators. The PN likely understood the narrow parameters and, in turn, evidently sought the Lineage 1000E as the platform for its next-generation LRMPA…

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[1] Anwar Iqbal. “US suspension of aid not a ‘life or death situation’ for Pakistan, says navy chief in Washington.” Dawn News. 18 September 2018. URL: https://www.dawn.com/news/1433697/us-suspension-of-aid-not-a-life-or-death-situation-for-pakistan-says-navy-chief-in-washington

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