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Analysis: The Pakistan Army’s Air Defence Systems

In January, the Pakistan Army (PA) conducted an exercise to test its various air defence systems. Based on the details released by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media branch of Pakistan’s military, the Army test-fired the gamut of its surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, namely: “HIMADS,” “LOMADS,” “E-SHORAD,” and “SHORAD.”

Together, these SAMs form the Army’s “Comprehensive Layered Integrated Air Defence” (CLIAD) system. CLIAD is the outcome of a decade-long initiative by the Army to build its own multi-layered ground-based air defence system (GBADS). CLIADS enables the Army to efficiently distribute its SAM deployment and management across its hierarchy, from Corps level to Brigade level. This was a significant step for the Army as it operated mostly man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS), such as the ANZA-series, until the 2010s.

This step was driven to address growing enemy close air support (CAS) and anti-armour/infantry/artillery air threats as well as the need to acquire more flexibility in land forces maneuvers without entirely relying on the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to intercept enemy aircraft and undertake long-range strikes. In terms of the latter, the Army is building its own stand-off range weapon (SOW) capability through artillery.

This analysis aims to unpack the SAM systems under CLIAD and how the Army will leverage it in the long-term for supporting its maneuvers and protecting its assets/facilities.

Pakistan Army’s SAM Systems


The High-to-Medium Air Defence System (HIMADS) is the HQ-9/P long-range SAM. Inducted in 2021, the HQ-9/P has a range of 125 km and, according to the Army, can intercept aircraft and cruise missiles. The HQ-9/P’s capacity to intercept cruise missiles is likely limited to a shorter range, possibly under 25 km.

The HQ-9/P’s guidance suite likely leverages an inertial navigation system (INS) aided by a targeting radar via datalink and a terminal-stage active radar-homing (ARH) seeker. The system uses the HT-233 phased-array fire control radar.


The Low-to-Medium Air Defence System (LOMAD) seems to consist of two SAM systems – the LY-80 and the LY-80EV. The Army inducted the LY-80 in 2017 and it provides a stated range of 40 km. The LY-80EV is less clear; however, it may be the improved 70 km range variant of the HQ-16 revealed in 2016.

The LY-80 uses a semi-active radar-homing (SARH) guidance system where it depends on an illumination radar to maintain a lock on the target as the missile reaches it. It is unclear if the LY-80EV uses a different guidance configuration (e.g., ARH like the HQ-9/P), though it is possible.

The LY-80/EV leverages the IBIS-150, an S-band passive electronically-scanned array (PESA) surveillance radar with a range of 150 km and multiple L-band fire control radars with ranges of 85 km each.


The Extended Short-Range Air Defence System (ESHORAD) may be the FM-90 system, which offers a range of 15 km. The FM-90 uses a command guidance system and is primarily designed to intercept low-flying aircraft, drones, and, potentially, missiles/munitions.


The Short-Range Air Defence System (SHORAD) is likely the ANZA-Mk2. Using infrared (IR) homing for guidance, the MANPADS offers a range of up to 5,000 m. The Army may also be using the Saab RBS-70 NG as a SHORAD system. This is a laser-guided SAM with a maximum range of 9,000 m.

The Army also uses the older RBS-70 (range: 9,000 m), FN-6 (range: 6,000 m), FN-16 (range: 6,000 m), Anza-3 (range: 5,000 m), and Anza-2 (range: 5,000 m) for its SHORAD needs.

Potential Deployment and Utilization

To what extent the Army’s CLIAD integrates with the PAF’s GBADS is unclear. However, there appears to be a level of demarcation between the ranges covered by the Army and the PAF. For example, the PAF’s new SAM systems – i.e., the HQ-9BE and HQ-16FE – cover 260 km and 160 km, respectively. This is longer than the reach of the Army’s SAMs. Thus, it is possible coverages beyond a certain range and altitude are the responsibility of the PAF, freeing the Army and Navy to build their own capabilities under a threshold.

The PAF could be responsible for Pakistan’s airspace at a strategic level, with roles ranging from territorial defence to anti-ballistic missile defence (ABM). Under that umbrella, the Army and Navy would focus on shielding their respective surface deployments on land and sea, respectively.

So, in this framework, the Army set up its GBADS to protect its installations and cover its formations, such as mechanized infantry, armour, and artillery deployments. Indian CAS assets, like attack helicopters and the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Jaguar, would be the primary aerial threats. The induction of the HQ-9/P may indicate that the Army aims to address these aerial threats independently of the PAF. Thus, the prospect of a combined arms initiative with PAF fighters defending Army formations and, in turn, engaging in their own anti-armour and other ground attack missions on the Indian Army (IA) is unlikely.

In this context, the Army’s GBADS efforts could evolve further in two key areas.

First, acquiring a solution to address the threat of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), especially swarming drones, loitering munitions, and medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) combat drones. This requires a scalable solution, one that can address the threat of a large number of aircraft simultaneously.

The Army may be supporting the development of a Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) system. In fact, a domestic C-UAS system is in development. Global Industrial and Defence Solutions (GIDS) says that this C-UAS system leverages “cognitive SDR [Software Defined Radio]” technology to interfere with radio frequencies and satellite navigation (SATNAV) links. Like the PAF, the Army may also acquire a directed-energy weapon solution as a hard-kill mechanism to complement the domestic C-UAS.

Second, the Army may work to acquire more advanced short and medium-range SAMs. It is worth noting that the SAMs listed in GIDS’ future roadmap use the same nomenclature as the Army’s SAMs, especially ‘LOMADS’ and ‘ESHORADS.’ It is possible that these SAMs are being developed for use by the Army in the long-term and, in turn, possibly become replacements for the older SAMs.

The GIDS ‘LOMADS’ offers a range of 7 km to 100 km and altitude reach of 30 m to 20 km. GIDS’ ‘ESHORAD’ would leverage the in-house ‘FAAZ’ air-to-air missile (AAM) program to provide a range of 20 km to 25 km and altitude reach of 6 km to 8 km. Interestingly, the new ESHORADS also appears to be a quick-deployable mobile asset mounted on a 4×4 vehicle, like the FM-90. Interestingly, the company Harobanx is developing a SHORAD system with a range of 10 km, one designed to intercept UAVs through a low-cost missile.

These in-house SAM projects may not materialize. However, they could indicate the direction of the PA’s long-term air defence plans. If the domestic industry cannot deliver these SAMs, then the Army may seek off-the-shelf systems, like the HQ-16FE (which is also used by the PAF) and FK-1000, among others. That said, advancement in the ESHORADS and LOMADS space may push the Army to advance its HIMADS such that it extends the range and altitude reach of its air defence systems, potentially exceeding 150-200 km.

If the Army intends to take responsibility for its own aerial defence, then it will need to invest in advancing its SAM inventory. India, for example, will employ more sophisticated SEAD/DEAD (suppression of enemy air defence/destruction of enemy air defence) measures, like leveraging anti-radiation missiles (ARM) so as to neutralize the Army’s (and PAF’s) GBADS. Introducing SAMs with newer guidance modes and seeker technology will be important, alongside new radars with improved electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM), range, and targeting capabilities. Interestingly, Pakistan also has two domestic air defence radars in development, including both X-band and S-band designs.

Overall, the development of the CLIAD shows that the Army considers air defence a crucial area of its long-term planning, one warranting growing investment.

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