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IDEX 2017: Pakistan reportedly expresses interest in Serbian armaments

At IDEX 2017, Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Production (MoDP) Rana Tanveer Hussain visited the display of Yugoimport-SDPR, and reportedly reiterated Pakistan’s interest in the NORA B-52 self-propelled 155 mm/52-caliber howitzer (SPH).

The NORA B-52 is competing against the Denel Land Systems T5-52 for the Pakistan Army’s requirement for wheeled SPHs. It had been tested in Pakistan, and a Pakistani Army delegation led by the Director General of Artillery visited Serbia in January.

As per the Serbian news publisher Politika, Yugoimport-SDPR revealed that Pakistan was interested in 500 systems, of which 400 would be manufactured in Pakistan under a transfer-of-technology agreement. The MoDP also inquired about the extended-range version of the 122 mm Grad-2000 rocket, which has a range of up to 52 km, which is deployable through multiple-launch rocket-systems (MRLS).

Notes & Comments:

Pakistan has yet to decide between the NORA B-52 and T5-52, but the purported figure provides context into the scale of the Pakistan Army’s requirement. If hundreds of systems are sought, and that too with domestic manufacturing, then the selection of a wheeled-SPH could shape Pakistan’s wider artillery plans.

Since Pakistan would be manufacturing a 155 mm/52-caliber gun for the SPH, then it would be reasonable to assume that the same gun would be procured for the Army’s 155 mm towed howitzer needs.

The inquiry in the Grad-2000 also indicates that the Army has far-reaching artillery modernization plans. While Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) manufactures 122 mm rockets, the Pakistan Army’s needs have evolved to require extended-range and, potentially, precision-guided rockets.

Besides Yugoimport-SDPR, the Turkish munitions manufacturer Roketsan is also offering its solutions (MSI Turkish Defence Review). New versions of China’s Weishi-series should also be among Pakistan’s options.

The Serbian industry has many land forces solutions. Expanding its artillery portfolio, Yugoimport-SDPR showcased its new 400-mm diameter Sumadija artillery rocket, which can push a 200-kg warhead to a range of up to 280 km. The Sumadija appears to be similar in concept to the Israel Aerospace Industries Long Range Attack Missile (LORA), albeit with a lighter warhead (versus the LORA’s 570-kg warhead).

Yugoimport-SDPR’s mobility catalogue comprises of armoured vehicles such as the Lazar-series, which are 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) with defensibility against mine and improvised explosive device (IED) blasts as well as ambushes. The improved Lazar-3 was displayed at IDEX. Yugoimport-SDPR expanded its vehicle portfolio with the 4×4 MILOSH armoured vehicle.

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  • by Shakeel
    Posted February 22, 2017 12:52 am 0Likes

    Thank you Bilal for being the host of good news.

    The Serbian route seems to offer Pak army a big Punch. I am confident that Yugoimport-SDPR
    will offer us a competitive package & max technology transfer.Although, in the past I have also advocated the South African T5-52, but I now feels that the Serbs will edge it, purely from a economies of scale standpoint. The figure revealed by Politika 500 is mammoth. Can you confirm if this correct? The sooner we clinch this deal, the better. Wonderful news.

  • by Superior Shakeel
    Posted February 22, 2017 3:01 am 0Likes

    Serbian gun is the most inferior one of all the 152/55 artillery I’m suspecting huge kickbacks or low price to justify the acquisition otherwise I just don’t see the benefit also not sure about the the TOT as to what actually will be manufactured here in Pakistan I think we should go for the denel gun we have worked with denel in the past and they were more than willing to do the TOT for stand off munition program from which we have H-2,H-4 and Ra’ad.

  • by nob hamid gul
    Posted February 22, 2017 3:07 am 0Likes

    With Lots of Laugh, I would say this 500 figure must be reported by Pakistani kind TV anchors of Serbia.
    The number of units would not go beyond 150-200 units only if the procurement plan is this much large. Anyway, who knows 500 of units can also be procured after all truck mounted system are better than wheeled tracked.
    East European nations have always been Great in land defence system. Pakistan should benefit from Serbs in this area.
    Pakistan needs portable Artillery and howitzer system. It was Artillery that played a major role in 1965. The Chinese ah4 and Turkish 105mm tracked artillery which weighs less than 2,000 kg, and this truck mounted system seems really good variations.

    With attack helis and alkhalid 1 & 2 and haider tank Development in full swing, and now with this procurement of artillery system, it seems that Pakistan is being focus on it anti armour and strike capability

  • by Sami Shahid
    Posted February 22, 2017 4:33 am 0Likes

    Pakistan is interested but when will it buy ?

  • by Umar
    Posted February 22, 2017 6:49 am 0Likes

    Why is it that pakistan don’t develop it’s own modern guided rockets with extended range and payload ….We have a good experience in missile technology …Why not use own expertises and invest in r&d of such systems ?

  • by Aamir
    Posted February 22, 2017 11:59 am 0Likes

    I agree, amongst other things they are working on a 105mm artillary piece. Added plus is their expertise in air launch weapons.

  • by Matthys Jacobs
    Posted February 22, 2017 12:59 pm 0Likes

    Firstly I have to state that I am bias as an ex-Denel employee and as a South African.

    However in saying that I think that the Denel T5 offers far more capabilities to Pakistan and would offer far more technology transfer than Serbia could offer.

    Using the UAE as an example, South Africa has literally given the UAE precision guided glide bomb technology to the UAE which South Africa took decades to develop and the UAE now has that skillset in less than 24 months.

    Since South Africa is a smaller player on the defence market it would always opt for larger TOT to sweeten its deals.

    The T5 which is based on the G5 is combat proven and still considered the standard in terms of range – outranging all western 155 mm howitzer. It must be said that even the US, UK, Germany and France uses South Africa’s G5 and G6 for testing long range artillery.

  • by Matthys Jacobs
    Posted February 22, 2017 1:00 pm 0Likes

    Denel also wants to find a development partner for a 100 km range BVR missile for air to air & surface to air applications, they also have a number of other missiles, unmanned aerial systems and the G7 105 mm which they hope to develop. They have already developed technology demonstrator and require a funding partner to enter production.

  • by Matthys Jacobs
    Posted February 22, 2017 1:01 pm 0Likes

    Agreed, Pakistan and South Africa would be a great synergy in terms of economic size and also development.

  • by Matthys Jacobs
    Posted February 22, 2017 1:16 pm 0Likes

    I disagree, perhaps that is true for the Ukraine but Serbia has limited skills when it comes to land based defence systems. The current Nora was only recently developed and it has to be stated that Serbia has only recently placed an order and it has never been used operationally. Although the base gun which is the Nora M-84 was originally developed by Yugoslavia and inherited by Serbia was good at the time of design it was originally 152 mm.

    The 155 mm variant was developed in the mid-90’s.

    The 152 mm was used in the Yugoslav Wars but not to great effect. The core reason for their successes was that they had far more artillery than their opponents.

    If South Africa is to be used as an example during the Angolan War, what it showed was that numerical supremacy is not a necessity when your artillery can outrange, are far more reliable, far more accurate and are far more transportable over longer ranges. The G5/G6 ranges have proved their capabilities in Iraq where the US was forced to take out C&C with air strikes which was quite new at the time considering their previous doctrine was to use artillery against enemy batteries. However, Iraqi personnel were poorly trained and did not follow South African Doctrine of consistently moving batteries and C&C’s or have distributed command structures rather than centralised.

    Presently the UAE is using the G6 in Yemen and the Iranians are currently using the G5 in Syria and the UAE has recently ordered additional G6’s.

    The only issue with Denel is it’s difficulty in bringing most of it’s products to market which offer 80% of the capabilities of the best US or German products but at lower than 60% of the cost of Western Products. This is mainly because South Africa’s economy is currently struggling thus it spends little on Defence and Denel is essentially getting most of its funding from foreign orders.

  • by Bilal Khan
    Posted February 22, 2017 1:35 pm 0Likes

    The wheeled SPH requirement alone is purportedly 500 units, but if ToT is being sought, then it would only make sense for Pakistan to scale it to towed howitzers and, if possible, a future tracked SPH. This would be a production run of more than 1,000, and that too over a period of 10-15 years (if not longer).

    Considering the potential scale of the need, it would only be wise for Pakistan to take its time in examining each option and selecting the best overall package. While Yugoimport-SDPR might compete with Denel on price, I think Denel is still in the affordable range (relative to quality and performance).

    The UAE RG-35 contract with ToT was done in South African Rands (900m?), but the UAE basically paid US $63 million to essentially give NIMR a really good product, which it is now marketing in the Visegrad Group. NIMR could theoretically offset the cost of buying ToT via third-party exports.

  • by Bilal Khan
    Posted February 22, 2017 1:39 pm 0Likes

    I suspect the 500 figure (if not mistranslated from Desi English to Serbian to Google English) is for the gun, which could mean wheeled SPH and towed.

  • by Bilal Khan
    Posted February 22, 2017 1:57 pm 0Likes

    Insufficient R&D. Limited investment in education. Limited government and armed forces collaboration in long-term defence planning, especially with indigenization as a goal. Limited participation from the private sector, universities, and intelligentsia.

  • by Bilal Khan
    Posted February 22, 2017 2:00 pm 0Likes

    Pakistan already has 105 mm guns and POF manufactures 105 mm shells, though it would need to invest in 105 mm basebleed shells, but that is doable. If the Army picks up the G7, it would basically end-up replacing old 105 mm guns, especially in the mountainous areas (where lightweight howitzers such as G7 or AH4 would be needed).

  • by mazhar
    Posted February 22, 2017 3:46 pm 0Likes

    While we are talking about artillery, allow me to peek into history and let me ask a question from Bilal. What happened to our old Rani and Shairny guns of 1965 war? Are they in any Army Museum? How big was the shell they use to fire? I heard from my parents that they felt “DHAMAK” of the shelling while living near Sherwanwala gate Lahore.

  • by Aamir
    Posted February 22, 2017 4:45 pm 0Likes

    I will add that Yugoslav region (Serbia, Czechoslovakia & Bosnia) has been known for their manufacturing. Consider Czechoslovakia, during WW2 they made the effective Hetzer tank destroyer. Skoda also manufacturered numerous tanks and allied vehicles. As Bilal suggested, you can’t wake up one day and start making tanks, howitzers etc,. You wake up one day and decide that 20-30 years (in the very least) from today we will be able to design and manufacture a tank. Then you put in place all the elements that help you achieve that task.

  • by Rizwan
    Posted February 22, 2017 11:42 pm 0Likes

    All these things are very achievable, but require long term policies and action plans to achieve these goals that transcend elected or military governments. Our governments have no vision, are only interested in lining their pockets while they have the opportunity, and any projects, like the current CPEC hoopla, are mainly designed for immediate short term political benefits. Any real benefits are just a by-product.

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