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Italy Approved $762 m in Arms Sales to Pakistan in 2018

In its “Report on the Authorized Transactions Carried for Export, Import and Transit Control of Armament Materials,” the Italian government revealed that it approved €682.91 million (or $762 million US) in arms exports to Pakistan.

Pakistan was Italy’s second largest buyer, following Qatar (which received approvals worth €1.92 billion).

The sales for Pakistan in 2018 were roughly four times larger than those booked in 2017, which stood at €174.1 million (or $194.15 million US).

The official report did not disclose exactly what Italy approved for sale to Pakistan, but it does state that the systems in question include the following:

  • 12.7 mm caliber (plus lower and higher caliber) weapons and automatic weapons;
  • Ammunition;
  • Bombs, torpedoes, rockets, missiles, and accessories;
  • Equipment for the direction of shooting
  • Land vehicles
  • Aircraft
  • Electronic devices
  • Protective and construction equipment
  • Specialized equipment for military training or for the simulation of military scenarios
  • Devices for the vision of images

Notes and Comments

Since 2016, Pakistan’s main defence purchases from Italy comprised of the Leonardo AW139 search-and-rescue (SAR) and utility helicopter, surplus M109L tracked 155 mm self-propelled howitzers (SPH), and a range of other surplus armoured vehicles.

However, Italian arms sales to Pakistan in 2016 and 2017 were priced at €97.2 million and €174.1 million, respectively. While Leonardo did announce another AW139 sale to Pakistan in April 2018 (with deliveries slated for early 2019), it would have to be a significantly larger order to justify such a jump in sale figures.

Moreover, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has replaced its Alouette IIIs in the SAR role with the AW139, so a follow-up order may have come from another service branch (e.g., the Army, Navy or Government).

Interestingly, the near-4X growth in sales could also indicate new defence programs. So, for example, the PAF officially stated that it requires a new lead-in-fighter-trainer (LIFT). The Leonardo M-346 was among the top options (alongside the Chinese L-15 and South Korean T-50).

Moreover, the PAF’s current Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Mujahid Anwar Khan stated that the LIFT must “have an air interdiction radar and a datalink training system.” [1]

Interestingly, in July 2019, Leonardo announced that it sold six M-346FAs to an undisclosed “major international customer.” The M-346FA happens to meet the PAF’s two main requirements (i.e., a radar and data-link system). A small batch order of M-346FA could fit in the sales figures announced for 2018.

Alternatively, the most recent Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) report stated that the Directorate General of Defence Purchase (DGDP) ordered 10 “low-level radars” for $130 m. This could be a gap-filler radar meant for supplementing – and eventually replacing — the PAF’s Siemens Mobile Pulse Doppler Radars (MPDR). A Leonardo KRONOS LAND purchase could be a possibility.

More: The Leonardo Grifo-E AESA Radar is Reportedly an Option for the JF-17 | Read Now

[1] Alan Warnes. Interview with Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan. Jane’s defence Weekly. 22 May 2019.

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