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IDEAS 2018: Pakistan Navy is Negotiating for Anka-S UAV

Quwa was fortunate to attend and cover the 2018 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) on the 28th and 29th of November. This is the first of many articles Quwa will publish regarding IDEAS, this will be joined by a series of thematic reports discussing overall trends and issues we had observed at IDEAS (e.g., how Pakistan is steering its defence production, opportunities for the aviation industry, etc). This is also the first of Quwa’s original news reporting, i.e., first-hand information.

At the 2018 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS), which was held in 27-30 November in Karachi, Turkish Aerospace confirmed to Quwa that the Pakistan Navy is interested in the Anka-S and has begun negotiations for the medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Inducted by the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) in 2018, the Anka-S is a satellite-communications (SATCOM)-equipped variant of the Anka MALE UAV, which had first flown in December 2010.

The Anka-S has an endurance of 24 hours and – when using a line-of-sight (LoS) radio data-link – a range of 200 km. It has a service ceiling of 30,000 ft and is capable of carrying 200 kg in electro-optical (EO) and infrared (IR) equipment and/or precision-guided air-to-surface munitions.

Its ordnance options include the Roketsan UMTAS anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), Roketsan CİRİT laser-guided air-to-surface rocket, and the Roketsan MAM-L (a miniature air-to-ground missile). In the TSK, the Anka-S uses the Aselsan Common Aperture Targeting System (CATS) as its EO/IR turret; the CATS provides the Anka-S with laser-target designation/illumination capabilities.

Turkish Aerospace could not reveal the potential size or scope of the Navy’s Anka-S interest, but the Navy’s intention is to use a MALE UAV for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations over the seas. The Pakistan Navy would not comment on the deal, but a source told Quwa that the Navy’s enhanced maritime patrol duties (e.g., Regional Maritime Patrols) would make maximum use of added ISR capacity.

Turkish Aerospace also believes that its chances of inking a contract with Pakistan are strong, especially following the Pakistan Army’s purchase of 30 T129 ATAK attack helicopters. The company representative told Quwa that the armed forces were “impressed” by Turkey’s ground-attack advancements.


The Pakistan Navy’s interest in the Anka-S alludes to both enhanced ISR coverage and SATCOM usage for beyond line-of-sight (BLoS) connectivity. This would enable the Navy to operate the Anka-S at long-range, including over-the-horizon range (i.e., beyond 200 to 280 km).

Thanks to the Anka-S’ endurance of 24 hours, the Navy could maintain pervasive ISR coverage at-sea more cost-effectively than with the maritime patrol aircraft or with the Air Force’s airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. Moreover, AEW&C and MPA are intended for specific combat missions, not just ISR, so a dedicated ISR asset that is cheaper to operate – and is more dispensable – makes sense.

However, the BLoS element is contingent on SATCOM. Quwa was unable to get concrete information about Pakistan’s plans military-use SATCOM. In fact, after speaking to the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) at IDEAS, Quwa learned that the forthcoming PakSat-MM1 will use only C-band and Ku-band transponders. The Anka-S uses X-band terminals, so unless the UAV is adjusted, the Navy will need access to a satellite with X-band transponders.

Besides EO/IR and SAR (synthetic aperture radars), Turkish Aerospace is also planning to equip the Anka-series with electronic intelligence (ELINT) capabilities. ELINT would enable the Anka-S to passively collect electromagnetic emissions from radars, which Pakistan could add to its electronic warfare threat library.

Combined with the ATR-72 MPA, upgraded Agosta 90B and, potentially, the MILGEM, the Navy might gain ELINT across its aerial, surface and sub-surface assets. On that note, the Navy is also tying the information it gains from different platforms into a comprehensive situational awareness picture. To achieve this, the Navy is using the Naval Information Exchange System (NIXS) from the Turkish vendor MilSOFT.

Be it the Pakistan Navy Fleet Tanker (PNFT), the Agosta 90B upgrade, MILGEM Ada corvette, as well as a spate of other programs (e.g., NIXS, port design survey, oceanographic survey, etc) and a potential Anka-S MALE UAV, Turkey has clearly emerged as a leading defence supplier to Pakistan, second-only to China.

Turkish Aerospace was aware of the trend and, when asked by Quwa, confirmed that a push is underway to ‘integrate’ the two countries. For example, Turkey is willing to accommodate small batch purchases by Pakistan (when such modes are generally not possible with other suppliers). It appears that the T129 ATAK purchase is following this model (at an average of six aircraft per year over five years), and the Anka-S can follow-suit through multiple small batches over a five-plus year timeframe.

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