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Monthly Defense News Recap – September 2022

The U.S. State Department Approves Maintenance Package for Pakistan’s F-16s

On 07 September 2022, the U.S. State Department greenlit a $450 million U.S. sustainment package for the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) F-16 fleet.

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s (DSCA) press release, the package is more of a “consolidation” of previous F-16 support programs (similar to a $125 million U.S. program in 2019).

Instead of releasing multiple smaller programs, the Government of Pakistan and U.S. State Department decided to consolidate the upcoming sustainment contracts into one package.

Thus, the now consolidated F-16 support program covers many areas, including structural integrity work, support of electronic subsystems, engine repair support, ground support equipment (GSE) calibration and assistance, technical documentation support, and other lines of work.

This package does not involve any net-new aircraft, equipment, or capability additions. It is not an upgrade package, nor a follow-on acquisition program. Simply, this program is an amalgamation of existing and/or upcoming contracts for sustaining the PAF’s existing fleet of 75-odd F-16C/D Block-52+, F-16A/B Block-15 Mid-Life Update (MLU), and Block-15 Air Defence Fighter (ADF) aircraft…

Turkey Looks to Revive Pakistani T129 ATAK Deal Using Indigenous Engines

The President of Turkey’s Defense Industries (SSB), Dr. İsmail Demir, reportedly stated that Turkey is now in talks with Pakistan to revive the T129 ATAK attack helicopter program.

However, unlike the original $1.5 billion U.S. contract signed in 2018, this potentially revived program will center on Turkey’s indigenous turboshaft engines, i.e., the TEI TS1400.

In May 2022, the General Manager of Tusaş Engine Industries (TEI), Mahmut Faruk Akşit, said that TEI was nearing the point it would be ready to test-fly the TS1400. The TEI TS1400 offers an output of 1,570 shp, which is actually 100 shp higher than the original requirement of the homegrown engine.

The Pakistani T129 deal fell through because Turkey was unable to secure re-export licenses from the U.S. for the CTS800 turboshaft engines, which currently power the T129. Following a series of delays, Pakistan had agreed to extend Turkey’s delivery window by another year in 2020.

While numerous reports and official statements suggested that Pakistan was acquiring the China’s Z-10ME attack helicopter, it was unclear if Pakistan had entirely abandoned the T129…

Pakistan Rumoured to be a Buyer of Turkey’s Shallow-Water Attack Submarine

The Pakistan Navy (PN) could be an early customer of Turkey’s shallow-water attack submarine (SWATS), i.e., the STM 500. According to Defence Turkey’s İbrahim Sünnetci, STM is carrying out some redesign and customization work of the STM 500 to adapt to the PN’s requirements.

The current Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi revealed that the PN sought a SWATS in January 2021. In February 2022, the PN Chief of Naval Staff for Projects, Vice Admiral Imran Ahmed, also stated that the PN was working on inducting a SWATS. Interestingly, in December 2021, when Karachi Shipyards & Engineering Works (KSEW) cut the steel of the PN’s fifth Hangor (II)-class submarine, the PN itself stated it will induct a SWATS.

Thus, all indicators suggest that the PN approved a specific SWATS design for procurement and, basically, the program was active. However, it was unclear which vendor ultimately won the PN SWATS contract.

If Defence Turkey’s reporting is accurate, it would appear that Turkey’s STM basically won the PN contract through its STM 500 design. This would not be surprising as Turkey had been involved in the PN’s SWATS program since at least 2016.

Originally, the PN spoke to STM about refurbishing its legacy Cosmos MG110 miniature submarines. However, after a review, the PN concluded that refurbishing the MG110s was not a cost-effective route. Following that review, STM invited the PN to design a new submarine “from scratch.” In other words, STM was basically working with the PN on the SWATS since the very beginning of the program…

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