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Pakistan and Italy agree to strengthen defence ties

Last week, Italy and Pakistan agreed to strengthen their defence ties. Rana Tanveer Hussain, Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Production, said, “There should exist cooperation in the fields of defence production between the two countries”. Although the two sides affirmed their interest to cooperate, Pakistan and Italy actually signed an accord – the Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP) – in that direction in 2013.

Comment and Analysis

Italy is among Pakistan’s leading Western suppliers. In the 1990s Finmeccanica (now known as Leonardo) provided radars for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s F-7s and Mirages, most notably the Grifo-7 and Grifo-M, the latter being particularly interested in that it imbued the Mirage ROSE I (Retrofit of Strike Element) with the capacity to utilize a beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air missile (AAM).

In more recent years, the PAF ordered 10 batteries of MBDA Spada 2000 Plus medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems for approximately $475 million U.S. The purchase was concluded in 2007 and the Spada 2000 Plus system (an improved variant of the Spada 2000) was inducted in the PAF. Alongside RAC-3D radars and 750 Aspide 2000 missiles, the package also included maintenance and testing facilities.

Around this time the PAF also ordered a number of Falco unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which were co-produced under license at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC).

At present, Italian firearms maker Beretta is among the handful of competitors seeking a new standard-issue rifle deal with the Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) and the Pakistan Army. The ARX-200 – battle rifle chambered for 7.62x51mm – is (or at least was) being evaluated.

Beyond that, there other possible routes for cooperation, but they are merely possibilities. For example, the Pakistan Navy (PN) could consider Alenia Aermacchi – among other competitors – to configure its ATR-72 turboprops for maritime surveillance. The Chief Project Director of the JF-17 Thunder also listed the Leonardo Vixen active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar as a possible option for use on the JF-17 Block-III, which is currently under development. In October 2015, Finmeccanica’s Selex ES branch said it would also try to compete to source the cockpit for the JF-17 Block-III.

We at Quwa also suggested that the PAF consider working with Leonardo to source a complete radar and avionics suite for the JF-17 Block-III. The Raven ES AESA radar, Skyward infrared search and track (IRST), and BriteCloud self-protection decoy (equipped with a radar jammer) were developed for the Saab JAS-39E/F Gripen NG platform, but are available for use for other platforms (though this is unclear in regards to the Raven ES). The PAF does not even need to embrace every sub-system, it could simply acquire the IRST (which could be integrated or optionally podded) or BriteCloud (which just needs to be placed in the chaff and flare dispenser of the fighter).

Besides the JF-17, Pakistan could also try engaging with the Italians in order to access certain munitions from MBDA, such as the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM) or Aster platforms, these may be of interest to the Navy should it ever manage to push new multi-mission frigates into the pipeline.

Once again, it is important to reiterate that this is merely speculation and thinking on our end. The extent to which Pakistan could ever engage with Italy (or another Western firm) will be limited by its capacity to finance pricy acquisitions, and to build foreign relations muscle as a means to thwart others who may seek to undermine its purchases. For the time being, it would be worth keeping an eye on Beretta and perhaps even Leonardo, albeit to a relatively limited extent.

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  • by Bilal Khan - Quwa
    Posted May 9, 2016 1:10 am 0Likes

    New moderation rules are now in effect. *All* off-topic posts, insults, etc, will *not* be approved. Ensure that your comments are (1) constructive, (2) professional, and (3) on-topic. Threads will automatically be closed after 48 hours of posting.

  • by U
    Posted May 9, 2016 4:37 am 0Likes

    This is off topic, but is a request:
    Please do a system profile over this :

    Its future prospects, Chances of such a system in South Asia particularly Pakistan.

  • by Bilal Khan - Quwa
    Posted May 9, 2016 4:42 am 0Likes

    That’s really interesting. Thanks for sharing, I’ll try to post something this week.

  • by WARRIOR
    Posted May 9, 2016 4:47 am 0Likes

    Will USA allow Italy if we opt for Raven ES-05?

  • by Shershahsuri
    Posted May 9, 2016 4:54 am 0Likes

    Mr.Bilal Khan, Please also write something on satellites role in modern warfare. And role of Suparco,

  • by Bilal Khan - Quwa
    Posted May 9, 2016 5:32 am 0Likes

    I haven’t written anything dedicated to satellites and SUPARCO yet, but I did touch upon them a few times in the C4ISR series:

  • by Bilal Khan - Quwa
    Posted May 9, 2016 5:33 am 0Likes

    The U.S. hasn’t been against countries selling commercially available defence hardware to Pakistan (at least in the past 5 years). Our problem has been financing.

  • by U
    Posted May 9, 2016 5:43 am 0Likes

    Great, Thankyou.

  • by U
    Posted May 9, 2016 5:47 am 0Likes

    Kindly explain on what grounds exactly does US block Pakistan’s access to modern defense technology? That too from some other country
    This is BS! Do they actually and openly want Pakistan to be weak and get attacked by India?

  • by Bilal Khan - Quwa
    Posted May 9, 2016 6:40 am 0Likes

    The U.S. has blocked some technology in the 1990s and 2000s.

    For example, when it sanctioned Pakistan over the nuclear program, the U.S. exerted a lot of pressure on smaller arms suppliers to not supply Pakistan. Through the 1990s Germany was a no-go, Sweden was a no-go, and so on – we only had China and France. But to be fair, during this time there were also pretty heavy sanctions on India.

    From 2000-2010 the situation was a little different. The nuclear sanctions were gone, but the U.S. had problems with Pakistan accessing sensitive technology. For example, the U.S. blocked Pakistan’s purchase of a passive sensor from the Czech Republic (VERA), and then it scuttled a purchase of electronic warfare technology from South Korea.

    Why does the U.S. do it? I’ll leave that up to you to decide, everyone has their own opinion.

    Those sanctions and restrictions passed, Pakistan can import passive sensors and EW/ECM relatively freely – but there is a problem. Since 2010, Pakistan’s new problem is an old one, its inability to finance purchases. So while we would have access to AESA radars from Italy, can we readily afford them?

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted May 9, 2016 8:12 am 0Likes

    Off topic too here but then the relevant threads are now closed. Should be of interest to most Quwaites this. Sputnik News carried the following report on the 6th May 2016:

    I’m surprised you have not touched on it as yet.

  • by Shershahsuri
    Posted May 9, 2016 11:03 am 0Likes

    on one hand financial constraints come everywhere in our way to acquire much needed technology for national security, on the other hand our inept rulers have so much money to waste in corruption and totally unnecessary projects. In the past 10 years billions of dollars were embezzled and stashed away in foreign banks. PPP govt has no precedence in corruption. our political leaders should not be left unchecked and free at least in case of National security issues. Our armed forces should just throw their needs on the tables of PM, FM and DM with a time frame to procure them anyway whatsoever.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted May 9, 2016 12:08 pm 0Likes

    This article could do with feedback and input from Jigsaww to do it full justice, particularly in regard to the possible options discussed for JF-17 Blk 3.

    Jigsaww, where art thou? Don’t keep your fans waiting too long!

  • by Shershahsuri
    Posted May 9, 2016 1:26 pm 0Likes

    We love Jigsaww. I really wish to see his real face.

  • by MT
    Posted May 9, 2016 2:51 pm 0Likes

    india shall never purchase f16 but f18 superhornet is possible

  • by MT
    Posted May 9, 2016 2:54 pm 0Likes

    usa gave aerostat radars top class radars p3 orion for free from aid money

    india has never been lucky to get such favors

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted May 9, 2016 3:55 pm 0Likes

    Would certainly be interesting to see which path India pursues.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted May 9, 2016 4:21 pm 0Likes

    Hi. Sorry about that. To tell you the truth, i was of the idea that i may not be needed here anymore. I know i have a certain way of saying things and that may not be agreeable at times, but frankly i don’t take bullshit from hindustanis. I know their veiled references to ridiculing pakistan and all, which i cannot stand. I think the cross debate was causing problems, so i pulled back for sanctity of forum. I like this place and bilal’s work. I’ll be around on internet. Would still love to contribute.
    Take care.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted May 9, 2016 4:22 pm 0Likes

    Love you guys too.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted May 9, 2016 4:38 pm 0Likes

    You have a lot of fans on here including me and your input is always appreciated. I do understand Bilal’s side too. To monitor and moderate all the comments all the time would inevitably drain his time and the option in the end would be necessarily either to let everything pass or impose very strict limits. Neither of them is close to ideal. I have volunteered to be a moderator to help share the work load so we still keep getting both great articles and great feedback.

    Of course I have to follow the same guidelines issued to me but I would use discretion on borderline remarks. I am an inexperienced moderator and will take a bit of time to settle in but I hope I can play a constructive role in ensuring we all continue to enjoy the same vibrant and lively comments section minus the abuse. There is a difference between provoking and responding but if the response breaks the same guidelines as does the instigating comment then it is difficult and not impartial to let the one pass and remove the other. Agreed?

    Here again I have just noticed the use of the word BS in your post but in my quick scan read I did not notice it before approving it (honestly) but I hope the comment and my response does not get removed so others can see and hopefully help towards a common goal in the best manner.

    Anyway, please do not be deterred from commenting. You bring value to the site, not detract from it and it is us, your fans, who lose out if you withdraw. Thanks.

  • by bla bla
    Posted May 9, 2016 4:49 pm 0Likes

    Man your an intellect I am a fan 🙂

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted May 9, 2016 7:02 pm 0Likes

    The Raven ES AESA radar, Skyward infrared search and track (IRST), and BriteCloud self-protection decoy – how complicated would it be to integrate any of this on to the JF-17? By this I mean to what extent is it necessary to pencil in such equipment at the initial stages of the platform design and what, if anything, is compromised to try and integrate all this to an existing platform at a later stage? We hear it said of the JF-17 that it is an open platform designed to accommodate a wide range of systems but it would appear (to my inexperienced mind) an open solution, a jack of all trades if you like would not necessarily be as refined a solution as say a more selective, dedicated platform.

  • by Zaff Hundal
    Posted May 9, 2016 7:18 pm 0Likes

    Couldn’t agree more here.

  • by Bilal Khan - Quwa
    Posted May 10, 2016 12:20 am 0Likes

    The BriteClould and Skyward IRST are not a big deal to integrate. For example, the BriteCloud just needs to be placed in the chaff/flare dispenser, it’s not an integrated ECM suite, just a decoy with active radar jamming. Regarding the Skyward, that depends: it could be an issue integrating it into the JF-17 airframe, but on the other hand, the PAF could just pod it. It seems like IRST will be a podded solution.

    The Raven ES (or any AESA) radar is an issue. A retired PAF engineer (who shares the same name as me) on Pakistan Defence forum is saying the PAF will need to do sensor fusion work on the AESA radar and integrated ECM (i.e. RWR, MAWS, RF-jammer, etc). Hence the PAF would prefer sourcing the radar and ECM from the same source.

    Unfortunately, Leonardo/Finmeccanica doesn’t have a standalone ECM solution, despite it clearly having the competency to develop one. The PAF would have to pay for the development of the solution, unless of course Finmeccanica comes up with one (which would be surprising if it doesn’t since it offers every other aspect).

  • by Smoking a Tejas
    Posted May 10, 2016 2:48 am 0Likes

    I’m assuming that the ROSE updates took place at a time when Chinese tech was still in its infancy and access to Western tech was not an issue. In today’s scenario, I’ll be curious to see where the PAF goes for its long term solutions. Adaption and ToT are now critical elements for any country and you really don’t want to be on the wrong end of sanctions. On a related question, what if any are similar Chinese systems of AESA, cockpit displays, ECM, decoys etc that can compete with these italian systems? For me the critical question would be the seller’s research and manufacturing capacity to quickly modify and roll out solutions which fit particular customer needs,at competitive prices.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted May 10, 2016 5:28 am 0Likes

    Should i remind you about the favors Hindustan has been getting? I’m sure you wouldn’t want that.
    FMS deals are none of your business, USAID spanning over 70 years is.
    Keep it to the point. I thought that was the deal.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted May 10, 2016 5:35 am 0Likes

    Ok. thanks. I appreciate. i will try, but i’ve seen lately associations of words like “begging bowl”, “false pride”, and all to mention of Pakistan, not being moderated, even after these new rules. I am all for participation. I’ll give it a shot. Thanks for kind words, everyone.
    Pakistan is all i love for, that is my problem.

  • by Abdul Rashid
    Posted May 10, 2016 6:25 am 0Likes

    Great. Good to hear that.

    Agreed, references to “begging bowl” are not acceptable and a very clichéd response to Pakistan often by some who most vividly conjure up the image of the begging bowl! Having said that, if it is a veiled reference rolled up in an otherwise relevant comment then the decision to approve or reject becomes difficult. At least by approving SOME such quips it presents others a chance to counter it. I will try my very best as a mod to gradually filter out all such garbage. Give me some time, early days yet!

    Many here share your love for Pakistan. To tell you the truth, it is not so much defence tech that draws me to the site. Not really my cup of tea at all. My interest is only to the extent it can be of use to meet Pakistan’s defence needs. Take Pakistan out the equation then the interest begins to evaporate in no time.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted May 10, 2016 7:29 am 0Likes

    Thank you. I agree

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