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Germany Cleared EUR 174.4 M in Arms to Pakistan in 2018

In its 2018 Military Equipment Export Report, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy disclosed that the German government approved €174.4 million ($194.35 million US) worth of armament licenses to Pakistan. This was over a 5X increase to the €32.4 million in arms approved to Pakistan in 2017.[1]

The 2018 report states that 35.1% of licenses comprised of “maritime patrol and torpedo aircraft, launch equipment for unmanned aircraft and parts for combat aircraft, aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aircraft, [and] ground support equipment.” This likely refers to the conversion of two Pakistan Navy (PN) ATR-72s into anti-submarine warfare (ASW)-capable maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) as well as the sale of an undisclosed number of LUNA NG unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to the PN.

The PN officially inducted both the ATR-72 MPA (officially designated as the RAS-72 Sea Eagle) and LUNA NG in January 2020. The Sea Eagle MPA conversion project was contracted to Rheinland Air Services (RAS) in 2016, while the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the LUNA NG is EMT Penzberg.

RAS delivered the first of two RAS-72s to the PN in early 2018, and the second aircraft in early 2019. RAS said that the PN still has an option to convert two additional aircraft.[2] Currently, the PN has a third, clean-configured ATR-72 which it uses for “cargo/para-drop” operations. Though it can be armed with a pair of lightweight ASW torpedoes, the RAS-72 also offers long-range air and surface surveillance and targeting, as well as electronic intelligence (ELINT) capabilities. It is not restricted to ASW operations, but serves as an early warning and, potentially, target classification and missile guidance asset for small ships.

Next, the report outlines that 18.4% of licenses comprised of “underwater detection equipment and parts for submarines, tugs, [and] underwater detection equipment.” These systems are likely part of the PN’s ongoing Agosta 90B mid-life update (MLU) program, which the Turkish contractor STM is managing at the Karachi Shipyards & Engineering Works (KSEW). The MLU draws new subsystems from multiple countries, including South Africa and the UK. Germany’s input likely centers on the transfer of the Atlas-Elektronik’s sonar suite. Quwa was told by an industry source that the PN is using the ISUS-100’s sonar in combination with Havelsan’s human-machine interface (HMI) and combat management system (CMS)

The first of these upgraded ships (PNS/M Hamza) is due for testing in 2020, with harbor acceptance tests (HAT) scheduled in Q1, and sea acceptance tests (SAT) thereafter.[3] Currently, two Agosta 90Bs are on contract for upgrades, but STM is planning to sign the deal for the third submarine by the middle of 2020.[4]

The final 27.3% of the licenses Germany approved comprised of radar and communications equipment:

“Communications equipment, guidance equipment and parts for communications equipment, radar reconnaissance systems, self-defense systems, measuring equipment, testing equipment, travelling wave tubes, positioning equipment, guidance equipment, [and] electricity supplies.”

Prior to 2018, these systems would have likely centered on spare parts and support for the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) Siemens Mobile Pulse-Doppler Radars (MPDR) and Rohde & Schwarz radios. But in 2018 it is unlikely that those two areas were the only drivers of the sales growth that year.

Most of the systems listed in the report point to inputs for radars, indicating either a major overhaul (the largest yet) of the aging MPDR, or potentially, new-build radars. The latter is possible, especially since the PAF disclosed that it allocated $130 million US against its 2017-2018 service budget for 10 low-level radars.[5] If these are new radars, then the likely supplier is Hensoldt, which had marketed its TRS-series to the PAF as successors to the PAF’s aging MPDR, which it acquired in the 1980s. It is worth noting that earlier Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) reports also outlined the development of very high-frequency (VHF) radars.[6] Thus, these inputs could also point towards that program as well.

Germany has yet to release a finalized report for its arms exports in 2019, but there may be a drop-off in the licenses approved for Pakistan compared to 2018. For at least the first half of 2019, Pakistan did not register in the top 10 of arms license approvals (though it was the fourth highest in 2018).[7]

Pakistan Ordered Over $1 Billion in Arms from Europe in 2018

In 2018, Germany approved nearly $200 million US in arms sales to Pakistan. However, Italy disclosed that it sold $762 million US in equipment to Pakistan (making Pakistan the second largest buyer of Italian arms in 2018, after Qatar). Pakistan must have also wired payments to Sweden and the Netherlands for the three follow-on Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and 2,300-ton offshore patrol vessels (OPV)/corvettes, respectively. It may have smaller purchases from Spain, the UK and Switzerland for various programs as well. Combined, these programs likely saw orders of over $1 billion US in 2018.

Though the transfer of surplus M109Ls from Italy, Saab Erieye AEW&C from Sweden, corvettes from the Netherlands, and AW139s from Italy and the UK could count as major assets, most of Pakistan’s acquisitions from Europe that year seemed to have revolved around integration services (e.g., RAS-72) or subsystems. Of the later, Pakistan is confirmed to have acquired active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars for use from the RAS-72 and Sea King, electronic support measures (ESM) for the RAS-72, SharpEye low-probability-of-intercept radars from the UK for use on the Agosta 90B, and other inputs.

It is interesting to see that while Pakistan is no longer a buyer of end-to-end European solutions (such as multi-role combat aircraft), it is a key customer of specific subsystems and inputs. However, with Pakistan opting to design and integrate its own solutions, such as its next-generation long-range maritime patrol aircraft (LRMPA), the fourth ship of the Jinnah-class frigate program, and the Project Azm fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), its reliance on Europe for some critical inputs could continue.

As with today, Pakistan’s main lines of interest would likely center on advanced electronics, such as radars for air and naval applications, and electronic warfare (EW) and ESM for air, naval and land-based systems.

With the PN moving ahead with its next-generation LRMPA, the first ‘test’ of this approach could center on this project. Be it from Italy, Germany or the UK, the PN technically received approvals for a range of subsystems for use on the RAS-72, so it could seek them again (so as to simplify integration, logistics and training) for use on the LRMPA. However, instead of RAS, the integration work will be done in Pakistan.

However, while electronics can make a difference in a combat scenario (as evidenced from the PAF’s show of EW during Swift Retort in February 2019), they are not employable weapons. In other words, they do not directly cause material effect. It would be worth seeing if Pakistan tries to once again pursue directly employable weapons – e.g., surface-to-air missiles (SAM), torpedoes, air-to-air missiles (AAM), etc – from Europe as part of its own programs. For example, in June 2019 it was reported that Pakistan was among a number of countries that had expressed in MBDA’s Common Anti-Air Modular Missile – Extended Range (CAMM-ER) SAM.[8] Thus, the CAMM-ER could be an option for use from the Jinnah-class (MILGEM) frigate, or the fourth custom ship under the program (which will be designed in Pakistan with Turkish help).

With missiles, the potential effect of the system is more tangle (e.g., there is a range and a potential risk of loss for the enemy directly resulting from its use). Certainly, India will lobby to block such sales, and the US may try to exert pressure to prevent the OEM from selling to Pakistan. But large subsystem orders can provide leverage to Pakistan to keep Italy, Germany and the UK engaged enough to back the sale of these more sensitive systems. It will be an interesting test of Pakistan’s clout and Europe’s flexibility; but if the latter opts to block the sale of such systems, Pakistan could go to China or Turkey. In turn, unwillingness to release missiles et. al could see Pakistan curb its subsystem imports as well.

[1] “Report by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on Its Policy on Exports of Conventional Military Equipment in 2018.” Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Government of Germany. URL:

[2] Alan Warnes. “Pakistan Navy ATR72MPA to fly in October.” Warnesy’s World of Military Aviation. 28 June 2017. URL:

[3] “STM’s Naval Expertise Propelling Export-Oriented Development and Collaboration Projects with the Turkish Defence Industry.” Defence Turkey. Volume 14. Issue 95. 2019.

[4] “A new era in the defense industry | Cooperation with Pakistani armed forces increases.” Diriliş Postası. 26 February 2020. URL:

[5] Year Book 2017-2018. Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP). Government of Pakistan. Appendix I. Page 24.

[6] Ibid. Page 129. Annex-A.

[7] Report by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on Its Policy on Exports of Conventional Military Equipment in First Half of 2019.” Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Government of Germany. URL:

[8] “Italy Restores Funding for CAMM ER Air-Defense Missiles.” Defense 12 June 2019. URL:

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