Skip to content Skip to footer

Pakistan’s C4ISR (Part 1): Introduction and Overview

08 March 2016

By Bilal Khan

Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) is a term commonly used to describe the idea of using a network to communicate and pass data between connected assets. These assets can range include aircraft, surface warships, armoured vehicles, ground stations, and even individual personnel. In the modern warfare environment, connecting new information to the right actors is vital to one’s capacity to survive and succeed on the battlefield. The reasons are obvious. Situational awareness at the tactical and strategic level are key, especially if one intends to properly understand a problem, and in turn, deploy the correct solution. Precise and objective decision-making can save lives, accrue gains, and win battles, which in turn can win wars.

The specifics will vary between scenarios and countries, but the core idea driving each country’s hardware choices, standards (for voice and data-transfer protocols), and deployments is the same: To build situational awareness by connecting new information to the right actors. Driving the process of building situational awareness are systems managing the flow of information and interaction between different assets. These systems are technological (via human-machine interface consoles) and organizational (e.g. delegating individuals or groups to preside over specific tasks).

The implementation of C4ISR typically centers on ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] equipment (such as radars), voice and data communication technology, human-machine interface (HMI) consoles, electronic support measures (ESM) equipment, and information technology (IT) systems to process information from ISR and ESM equipment. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch, but these elements are the most common in C4ISR. Moreover, the aspects described above can include a large number of individual assets, such as airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, satellites, command and control (C2) stations on the ground (as well as in the sea and air), combat aircraft, people, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and much more.

Like other modern militaries, the Pakistani armed forces also maintain a C4ISR system. The most visible elements of Pakistan’s C4ISR network include the Erieye and Karakoram Eagle AEW&C systems, but there is more at hand. However, over the past 10 years the Pakistani military has become sensitive about sharing information about its current C4ISR capabilities, and especially cagey about its future plans. Fortunately, Pakistani officials have offered hints in recent years about the armed forces’ C4ISR work. For example, Air Commodore Khalid Mahmood mentioned a national data-link solution, and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has openly discussed the Karakoram Eagle (KE)’s role in supporting maritime ISR operations.

It is possible a fair amount of detail will be disclosed during the upcoming IDEAS defence exhibition in Karachi, but until then, this series will offer a possible understanding of Pakistan’s C4ISR capabilities. Note, nothing in this article or in the series will be drawn from information not available to the public. While the analysis work in this series will offer some conclusions about Pakistan’s future C4ISR capabilities, please do not treat these conclusions as anything more than guesswork.

Pakistan’s C4ISR system could be understood as the implementation of core technologies, particularly ISR and communications. This article will offer a brief summary of each aspect, but over the next few weeks, we will review each part in greater detail. Note, neither this article or the series will offer an exhaustive technical discussion of C4ISR technology and concepts.

Part 2: Aerial and Surface Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR)

Sensors, such as radars, are perhaps the most visible aspects of C4ISR. AEW&C systems such as the Erieye and Karakoram Eagle play critical roles in providing the PAF and Pakistan Navy (PN) extended range radar surveillance coverage. In the simplest sense, these AEW&C systems provide early warning, just as a high-powered land-based radar would; but in reality, AEW&C are critically important pieces of network-driven battlefield operations. Moreover, radars are simply one aspect of ISR, and they function – alongside other sensors (such as electro-optical) – to observe the battlefield.

Part 3: Communications (including Data Link)

Communications is an integral component of C4ISR. The ability to exchange information as well as connect new sensory observations to the correct friendlies at the correct time is vital, tactically and strategically.

While high-speed and high-volume communication may not be a particularly difficult feat in the civil sector (thanks to fibre optics and saturated wireless networks), the battlefield space is a very different story. For one thing, militaries are heavily dependent on wireless communication, which in turn needs to be fast, powerful (in terms of range and penetration), and secure. This is not easy to accomplish, especially when one is dealing with fast moving assets or dense electronic warfare environments.

Tactical data-links (TDL), such as Link-16, use these core essentials to construct a ‘picture’ of the battlefield using information from sensors, such as radars. TDLs connectivity can be maintained between aircraft, surface ships, and ground-based vehicles.  

Part 4: Command and Control

Command and Control (C2) is technological and organizational. When looking at C2 technology, one might think about human machine interfaces (HMI), such as consoles, which are often found in secure locations, onboard surveillance aircraft and surface warships, and even integrated into portable systems. In terms of organizational aspects, militaries establish hierarchical structures whereby individuals and groups are empowered to make decisions, to access varying degrees of information, and undertake specific tasks.

Part 5: Intelligence

“Intelligence” is a broad term, but it generally centers around the idea of gathering information. How this is done depends on the scenario, mission objectives, and tools employed. In common C4ISR structures, intelligence is often conducted using electronic support measures (ESM), which in turn is broken into electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), and signals intelligence (SIGINT).

Part 6: Advancing in Network Centric Warfare

Once we develop a grasp of Pakistan’s C4ISR capabilities and plans, we will take a look at what Pakistan could and ought to pursue in terms of future development. Areas such as development in space, future tactical platforms, and emerging warfare concepts will be explored.


Show CommentsClose Comments


  • by MT
    Posted March 8, 2016 12:21 pm 0Likes

    1. I havent heard of C4ISR where Satellite navigation & satellite communication is missing.

    To develop navigation system would cost 1 bill$ minimal– Indian IRNSS cost 250 million $ which has more than 90% local components!

    2. The article doesnt talk about various chinese,american & swedish GIRAFFE radar which pakistan uses !

  • by Ashi Sidhu
    Posted March 8, 2016 12:44 pm 0Likes

    Probably it is only the first part

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 8, 2016 1:49 pm 0Likes

    I think you absolutely have no idea what C4ISR refers to or means in tactical terms. SatNav tech can be a part of it, however is not fundamental building block of C4ISR.

    Pakistan’s defense policy revolves around one simple fact. To keep the rabid dog to its east in check and in its place, whether that comes from coalition support fund of reimbursements of war expenses, or from other means. You should try explaining how much of USAID is being directed into getting weapons in india apart from fake GDP figures to divert all kinds of funds and aids.

    I however would like Bilal to touch on satellite capabilities pakistan has or aims to have, but its more than understandable that in last one decade pakistani military has stopped sharing sensitive and strategic information in public for many reasons. Capabilities however are in place at every level.

  • by MT
    Posted March 8, 2016 5:19 pm 0Likes

    I haven’t heard of any Us aid flowing to India in last 2 decades.
    India dont beg for weapons. Nor does it take aid from a country & arm/protect terrorist in its soil while it is being paid to kill them.

    Pakistan may have procured free weapons extorting American with help of its pawns – taliban.
    But what will happen post 2017 once the aid, csf dry & no free weapons can be extorted?

    Well I simply asked basic question if pak have the building blocks of C4ISR : radar(coastal, ground, awacs),sensor, military communication & surveillance which is primarily catered by satellites.

    All I see is that country that cant make a simple laser finder; dream about capabilities which has nothing coming from inhouse

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 9:17 am 0Likes

    In that case you should get yourself checked for an impaired hearing problem or bigotry if you will. There is documented proof of india receiving billions of dollars in USAID until 2012, and if you wait up, there will be new reports from 2012 also. It’s actually amazing to see you shamelessly lying about these things which are officially reported by both indian and US govs.

    Only if you spent half of your bigotry energies on your own pathetic selves, you would’nt be struggling with making electrical wires and wall sockets. Almost 100% of the indian weaponry is imported by re-routing aid and taxes and the rest by producing fake GDP figures. Focus on fixing that. I can’t name a single weapon system truly conceptualized and developed in india except for terrorism.

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 9:25 am 0Likes

    1. US aid to India & China since 90’s almost nill. I believe that China received average 70 mill$ yearly for last 20 years while India received avg 80-100 mill$ over 20 years time

    2. Pakistan on the other hand had milked US with 35 bill$ doles +10 bill$ debt rescheduling, + many bill$ FMS (foreign military sales) doles for weapons!

    So Pak got atleast 40 times more aid than India in last 15 years!

    2. Indian CAG auditors have presented the fact about Indian indigenous weapons in parliament y’day


    Import Content

    (in %)

    Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) System (excluding Aircraft)


    Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA), Lakshya

    5 – 7

    Remotely Piloted Vehicle (RPV), Nishant


    Aircraft Arrester Barrier


    Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)


    Combat Free Fall System




    Heavy Drop System


    Agni Missile


    Prithvi Missile


    Akash Missile


    Nag Missile


    Supersonic Cruise Missile, BrahMos


    Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM)


    Multi Barrel Rocket System-Pinaka


    MBT Arjun




    Electronic Warfare Systems

    5 – 30


    5 – 30

    Pocket Dosimeter


    Portable Dose Rate Meter




    NBC Recce Vehicle


    This information was given by Defence Minister Shri Manohar Parrikar in a written reply to Shri Tarun Vijay in Rajya Sabha.

    3. India have made many technology in house– Say for eg K series of missile- K4 was tested yday for range up to 3500 Km!
    Pak cant dream of making SLBM in next 20 years!!

  • by Ashi Sidhu
    Posted March 9, 2016 9:35 am 0Likes

    India economic aid $65bn Pakistan economic aid $44bn
    India military aid <$1bn Pakistan military aid $13bn
    India population 120 crore Pakistan population 17 crore
    Shame on Pakistan and it is even taking more aid with f-16s
    And not to forget India aid now is almost negligible and India is building dam and parliament in Afghanistan and also gave 4 Mi35 helicopters

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 9:41 am 0Likes

    Aid from US stopped to India in 90’s–

    All these civilian aid comes from US to christian NGO and leftist organisations who are used for conversion and pro american lobbying activities

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 10:11 am 0Likes

    No. The actual shame is on your double standards, stupidity, and illogical explanations. Why would US give any military aid to india, which has been traditionally US enemy in the region, sided with soviet union against US and is currently not in US camp still. Do you people even think before you spill out your already empty brains or what?
    India is not a major NON-Nato ally of US, Pakistan is. India is not fighting any war against extremism, Pakistan is. The only war india is fighting is against Naxals, its minorities, and kashmiris where HRW has severe issues. Why would you get any military assistance on that. At least try not to cross all levels of stupidity. Also make a correction that majority of pakistan assistance is CSF which is reimbursements to war expenses.
    If you have a problem with population, i suggest you start teaching your population on use of contraceptives, than whining about it and making silly comparisons in open public. Though i suppose the real problem is hindus feeling threatened by growing minority population and telling hindus to produce more children than muslims. When you live in such a society, you are destined for a break up.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 10:15 am 0Likes

    aray yaar…don’t you ever get tired of your own BS, because frankly i am.
    You are Unworthy of reeving an honest answer from me. So whatever.

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 10:26 am 0Likes

    Indian upper house presented level of indigenous production in DRDO

    Significant achievements of DRDO:

    Some of the major products/systems developed by DRDO and accepted/inducted by Armed Forces are:


    · Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’

    · Remotely Piloted Vehicle ‘Nishant’

    · Pilotless Target Aircraft ‘Lakshya-I’

    · Main Battle Tank ‘Arjun Mk-I’

    · Armoured Amphibious Dozer Mk-I

    · Armoured Engineer Recce Vehicle

    · NBC Recce Vehicle

    · Bridging Systems ‘Sarvatra’


    · Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C)

    · Integrated Sonar System for EKM Submarine.

    · Hull Mounted Sonar.

    · Short Range Battle Field Surveillance Radar

    · Weapon Locating Radar ‘Swathi’

    · 3D Low Level Light Weight Radar ‘Aslesha’ Mk-I

    · 3D Surveillance Radar ‘Revathi’

    · Electronic Warfare System for Navy ‘Sangraha’

    · Electronic Warfare System for Army ‘Samyukta’

    · Electronic Warfare System ‘Divya Drishti’

    · Electronic Support Measure ‘Varuna’

    · Commander’s Thermal Imager Mk-II for T-72, T-90 and BMP tanks

    · Holographic Sights for Small Weapons

    Weapon Systems:

    · Akash Weapon System

    · Prithvi Missile for Army and Air Force

    · Supersonic Cruise Missile ‘BrahMos’

    · Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System ‘Pinaka’ Mk-I

    · Torpedo Advanced Light

    · Heavy Weight Ship Launched Torpedo ‘Varunastra’

    Soldier Support Systems:

    · Computerised Pilot Selection System for Indian Air Force

    · Telemedicine System for Navy

    · Submarine Escape Suit

    · Flame Retardant Gloves

    · NBC products

    DRDO has been making all possible efforts to increase indigenous content in DRDO products. The percentage of import content in some of the major DRDO systems are given below:

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 10:30 am 0Likes

    1. =>>All kinds of Aid from US stopped to India in 90’s–

    All these civilian aid which was less than 70 mill $ -90 mill$ yearly for last 20 yrs comes from US to christian NGO and leftist organisations who are used for conversion and pro american lobbying activities

    All kinds of US civilian Aid to India for last 10 yrs is less than 80 mill$a year!

    Source: “With respect to India, for the fiscal year 2014, the State Department request is $91 million. This represents a 16% decrease from the fiscal levels 2012 (the previous actual spending),” a senior state department official told PTI.

    In 2010, the United States aid to India was $126.7 million, which drooped to $121.6 million in 2011 and $108 million in 2012 and was proposed to $98.3 million in the current fiscal of 2013, which ends on September 30.

    2. India is major US ally against expansionist china while Pak is ally for name sake as it has been supporting taliban terrorist for last 20 yrs while US aided Pak to kill them!

    Pak is duplicitous extortionist ally — IF US wants to get rid of taliban in afghanistan them it must sanction Pak economically and militarily since Pak is the true master of taliban terrorists

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 10:34 am 0Likes

    “With respect to India, for the fiscal year 2014, the State Department request is $91 million. This represents a 16% decrease from the fiscal levels 2012 (the previous actual spending),” a senior state department official told PTI.

    In 2010, the United States aid to India was $126.7 million, which drooped to $121.6 million in 2011 and $108 million in 2012 and was proposed to $98.3 million in the current fiscal of 2013, which ends on September 30.

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 11:06 am 0Likes

    In 2010, the United States aid to India was $126.7 million, which drooped to $121.6 million in 2011 and $108 million in 2012 and was proposed to $98.3 million in the current fiscal of 2013, which ends on September 30.
    for the fiscal year 2014, the State Department request is $91 million. This represents a 16% decrease from the fiscal levels 2012 (the previous actual spending),” a senior state department official told PTI.
    Aid to India further dropped to 70+ million $ in 2015-16

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 12:18 pm 0Likes

    At least that partially settles your earlier argument of india receiving no aid whatsoever in last 2 decades.
    Keep searching, you’ll uncover a lot more figures.
    I don’t have to prove or disprove anything here when it is an established fact India and Israel are largest recipients of USAID and pakistan has been getting refunds largely.

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 12:39 pm 0Likes

    *100 million $ is like nill aid–These money go to NGO,Tuberculosis or AIDS!

    Even china gets 70 mill$ yearly from US!

    70-80 million $ India receives from US is penny compared to 2-3 bill$ Pak receives yearly from US

    70-80 million $ Aid to India is 0.02% of Indian budget (70 million /350,000 million$(budget)*100)

    Pak received 2-3 bill$aid from US is 8-10% of Pakistan budget!

    India have received pennies since 1990’s while Pakistan got 50 times more aid in last 15 years despite being the front line terrorist state in arming and protecting taliban!

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 1:09 pm 0Likes

    Enough with the excuses. whether it is small or big, is your assumption/opinion, not mine. I do not endorse any of your views or your figures. They are as fake as you to me. The point i have made is now that you have accepted india not receiving anything in last 2 decades to some “almost nill” figures, proves you have been lying, in which case you should keep searching for more figures.

    The major purpose of military assistance from US for pakistan is again to keep india in its place and by that account it’s been pretty successful. Pakistan will not only keep its defences up to standards but also bomb the heck out of you indians with the same F-16s and military assistance the next time you think of crossing that border to attack pakistan or do not give up your official policy of exporting terrorism into pakistan. It does not matter where the military budgets comes from, as long as they keep you cowards in check.

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 1:33 pm 0Likes

    Listen you dumbwit!

    1. If one earns 1000$ a month and some one gives you 20 cent (0.2 $) will you call it aid ??

    But If someone donates 80-100 $ then it is big big amount

    For the same reason, I compared Pakistan aid to the budget size which is around 10% while Indian aid from american to budget size is less than 0.02%

    2. Do you think that India doesnt understand US double game with Pak!

    Pak extorts and US appeases PAk as long as its stuck in afghanistan!

    3. Do you expect US to give aid beyond 2017 & expect India to keep quiet!

    If US continues to aid Pakistan with free doles of weapons post 2017 then it can forget any assistance from India in Asia!

    India have many other options-So dont be surprised if you see India & china paying back US in its rear which will lead to dumping of Pakistan!

    Both US, China have used Pakistan to contain India but this is decade of india– And we will see both countries dumping Pakistan if it doesnt dismantle all Indian centric terrorist groups from its soil!

    So US game to appease Pakistan by giving its free doles despite Pak open admission in supporting global terrorist will be used by India to put pressure on Pakistan!

    4. Pakistan taliban paktoons have been bombed by Pakistan army–They will do anything to avenge back their losses.

    How is taliban anyway relevant to India?? for India, Taliban & Pakistan both are terrorist entities!

    5. Pak economy is about to be bankrupt–It is already stuck in debt trap—The aid from Us have already come down feom 3-4 bill$ to 1 bill$ in 2016–It will further be squeezed post 2017 once US departs!

    Then, we will see how you hide your shalwar with meager economy and no american military support–
    -We will then have pathans take care of you:)

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 2:02 pm 0Likes

    Check how despite bill$ aid from Us, Pak is among top 3 countries defaulting on debt

    Below, in order of declining default risk, are the ten most likely to follow Venezuela and Greece into the great default unknown:





    South Africa






    Imagine what will happen once US stops paying Pak the extortions–

    How long can Pak play Afghan taliban card?? 1 or 2 year at max!!
    You have already minced US for 15 long years while you harbor all terrorist at home including the afghan taliban chief!

    US will want results with in 12months and IF Pak dont deliver then they will stop all the aid, GSP status and place Pak under economic/military sanction!

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 2:06 pm 0Likes

    Oh well, there really is no need to go all so slizzy now. You know when you lie persistently, you always run of risk of being caught at some point.

    Which brings to asking you…how does it feel to be caught with pants down?

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 2:08 pm 0Likes

    dont burn your blood over things you dont understand kiddo.

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 4:33 pm 0Likes

    What will happen post American withdrawal- How long will US provide the doles!

    A country with no R&D where its Shaheen missiles uses 90% of chinese components will have to spend more funds on military import-

    Doles will dry after 1-2 yrs!

    Best of Luck!!

  • by Mohsin E.
    Posted March 9, 2016 6:57 pm 0Likes

    Can the ‘Discus’ discussion system be moderated? The Pak-India debates are hijacking the space.

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 7:53 pm 0Likes

    Shaheens will be there, so will be the nukes and F-16s and defence budgets. We have a rabid dog problem like i said and when you have that kind of situation in your house and neighbourhood, solutions occur. Eventually these are tools of Pakistan’s survival vs a terrorist state in its neighbourhood whose dalali people like you are forced to do without getting waged for it.

    The question is what will you do when USAID stops flowing into india, and world bank questions india on faking its GDP figures. That can’t be fixed with selling illegal kidneys you see.

    don’t get your twisted fantasies and wishes misguide you into some perverted bliss about pakistan. It’s here to stay and it’s here to keep you cowards in your place. Face it.

    stay blessed ( i mean cursed). stay clear of cows.

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 8:32 pm 0Likes

    1. Shaheen will stop the time Cheen even stops sale of 1 component.

    2. Pakistan can extort american aid as long as US is in afghanistan

    With its debt burden increasing & US leaving afghanistan: Pak will have no masters to fund its defence budget!

    3. US aid to India dried in 90’s— How hard is it for madrassa graduate to check US Aid figure for last 20 years–

    As I did post numerous times with quotes showing that aid to India for year 2015 was barely 70~million $ which is less than 0.02% of Indian budget!

    1 RS out of 5000 RS budget comes from US…I hope you got maths lessons from A Q Khan photocopy university!

    4. Indian total budget is close to 350 bill$ and India tax payers spends 40 bill$ on defense!!

    Some low life cant see the difference between 70 mill$aid to Indian budget of 350 bil$ vs 3 bill$ aid to meager Pak budget of 40 bill$!

  • by jigsaww
    Posted March 9, 2016 8:42 pm 0Likes

    someones bottom has been set on fire. enjoy it, cuz i am.

  • by MT
    Posted March 9, 2016 8:46 pm 0Likes

    feel pity at your country- Have no industries, no service sector, no manufacturing and no defence industries!

    How long can one Pimp for US! There is limit to which 1 master can keep pay for Afghanistan. Later we can expect more begging from chinese godfather in name of truck corridor where Pathans will sell tea and get to work as mechanic on chinese trucks!

Leave a comment