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Pakistan Navy Invests in Original Weapon Programs
November 28, 2021

Pakistan Navy Invests in Original Weapon Programs

The Pakistan Navy (PN) is undergoing a significant modernization program across each operational domain – i.e., surface, sub-surface, aviation, network-enablement, and others. Procurement of technically mature off-the-shelf weapon systems, such as the Type 054A/P frigate from China, are a critical piece of the PN’s modernization efforts. However, in an apparent break from most Pakistani defence acquisition programs, which favour fully operational and mature systems, the PN is staking its future on original designs.

The most notable of these designs are the Sea Sultan long-range maritime patrol aircraft (LRMPA) and the Jinnah-class frigate. If successful, the two programs could emerge as the PN’s workhorse assets across its surface combatant and maritime patrol domains. Moreover, the results could potentially encourage the PN to take on additional original projects.

Sea Sultan Long-Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft

On July 2021, reports emerged of Pakistan contracting the Italian defence giant Leonardo to convert three Embraer Lineage 1000 jetliners into the Sea Sultan LRMPA.[1] Pakistan also signed Paramount Group from South Africa to carry out maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) work on the aircraft.[2] The PN intends to acquire a total of 10 Sea Sultan LRMPAs with the goal of supplanting its P-3C Orion LRMPAs.

Jinnah-Class Frigate

The Jinnah-class frigate is the intended follow-on project to the PN MILGEM corvette program. The PN’s MILGEM is a customized variant of the Ada corvette. The most noticeable changes in the PN design include the addition of a vertical launch system (VLS) and a different anti-ship cruising missile (ASCM) layout. But there are also many commonalities between the PN’s ships and those meant for Turkey, especially in the area of sensors, combat management system (CMS), and other electronics.

The PN is ordering four MILGEM corvettes and, reportedly, two Jinnah-class frigates.[3] However, given the investment Pakistan is making in the Jinnah-class frigate – notably the original design work and intellectual property (IP) acquisition – the one or two ships on order are likely an initial batch.

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[1] “Taking Friendship With Pakistan to New Levels – Turkish President.” 92 News. Facebook. 24 January 2021. URL: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2824862584452430

[2] Usman Ansari. “Pakistan hires Leonardo, Paramount Group for aircraft conversion program.” Defense News. 08 July 2021. URL: https://www.defensenews.com/industry/2021/07/08/pakistan-hires-leonardo-paramount-group-for-aircraft-conversion-program

[3] Ibid.

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