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Pakistan Defence Review: Updates

AK-308: Kalashnikov’s New 7.62 NATO Rifle

During the 2018 International Military-Technical Forum “Army 2018” in August 2018, Russia’s Kalashnikov Concern unveiled a new 7.62×51 mm NATO assault rifle intended for overseas users, the AK-308.[1]

According to a press release from Kalashnikov Concern, the AK-308 is based on the AK-103 (i.e. a 7.62×39 mm assault rifle), but with design elements from the AK-12 and AK-15, which are configured in 5.45×39 mm and 7.62×39 mm, respectively.[2] The AK-12/AK-15 design features shown with the AK-308 include the former’s retractable stock, receiver and capacity to readily incorporate accessories, such as sights and grips. Kalashnikov has begun delivering the AK-12 and AK-15 to the Russian Ministry of Defence in 2018.[3]

Kalashnikov states that the AK-308 has a weight (with empty magazine) of 4.3 kg. This is heavier than the FN Herstal SCAR-H and Beretta ARX-200, which weigh 3.7 kg and 3.9 kg, respectively. The AK-308’s weight is comparable to that of the Zastava M77 (4.35 kg), another 7.62×51 mm rifle derived from the AK-series.

By basing the AK-308 on the AK-103, it appears that Kalashnikov is not only aiming at foreign markets, but cost-sensitive, developing-world markets. Otherwise, it could have leveraged the new newer and lighter platform driving the AK-12 and AK-15 (and it could plausibly do so down the line for more affluent buyers).

Seeing how the AK-103 had competed in the Pakistan Army’s rifle tender in 2016, Kalashnikov might opt to follow-up with the AK-308. Interestingly, the co-founder of a competing, US-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) claimed that Pakistan opted for 140,000 AK-103s.[4] However, a source quoted by the Russian newspaper Kommersant stated that Pakistan, despite approaching Russia with interest in various arms (including small arms), it has yet to initiative substantive contract negotiations.[5]

Nonetheless, given how Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) had spoke to Poland’s Fabryka Broni regarding a new generation rifle in November 2017, it appears that a new assault rifle design to replace the Pakistan Army’s Heckler & Koch G-3s is still a subject of interest.[6] However, the litmus test for this would be fresh tests involving designs that had either been cleared to proceed, modified offerings and new entrants (e.g. the AK-308, Fabryka Broni GROT, etc).

Russia Markets Surok Radar to Pakistan

During the 2018 International Military-Technical Forum “Army 2018”, the Russian company RTI Group signed a “memorandum of cooperation” with a Pakistani firm, TechWin Enterprise, for “organizing the delivery of the civilian radar Surok.”[7] According to RTI Group’s press release (via the Russian News Agency TASS), the Surok radar “is set to control and protect the Karachi NPP’s (nuclear power plant) facilities.”[8]

The exact nature of this agreement is unclear. Firstly, observers have questioned the need for introducing a radar system (especially one that could be separate from the Pakistan Army’s and Pakistan Air Force’s integrated air defence systems) to cover a nuclear power reactor. Secondly, private companies – including TechWin Enterprise – are not permitted to operate such equipment.

It is possible that TechWin Enterprise is actually facilitating an existing contract between the Government of Pakistan and RTI Group. In this case, TechWin Enterprise would essentially be a local sub-contractor or agent. Alternatively, TechWin Enterprise may have been selected by RTI Group to market the Surok radar as well as other RTI Group products to the Pakistani government.

In terms of the Surok’s capabilities, RTI Group told TASS that the Surok is a “small radar” system intended to detect small, low-flying aircraft.[9] In theory, if Pakistan is concerned about the prospect of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) intruding over controlled airspace, such as that of a nuclear reactor, the Surok could be of value. In fact, Pakistan could also pair the Surok with anti-UAV jammers and other measures.

However, an alternative angle to the Surok purchase – assuming it is proceeding – could be to strengthen ties with a Russian electronics company. In this respect, Pakistan could collaborate with RTI Group in the future to develop subsystems for use on other applications. In fact, considering how Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) has tasked its various organs (such as Aviation Research, Indigenization and Development: AvRID) to develop or secure critical technologies – including electronics – for the fifth-generation fighter (FGF) aspect of Project Azm[10], it is possible that seemingly marginal deals with major electronics firms in Russia, China and elsewhere could have (or later result in) substantive value.

Details Emerge of Pakistan’s MILGEM Ada Corvettes

Defence Turkey uncovered additional details regarding Turkey’s sale of four MILGEM Ada anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvettes to Pakistan, notably the delivery timeframe, workshare and some configuration details.[11] Pakistan inked its contract for four ASW corvettes in July 2018.

According to Defence Turkey, the first ship will be constructed within 54 months, with the remaining due in 60, 66 and 72 months. Basically, the Pakistan Navy (PN) corvette program is due for completion by 2024, at least in terms of getting each of the ships floating and put through sea trials. The second and fourth ships will be constructed in Pakistan by Karachi Shipyards & Engineering Works (KSEW).[12]

However, there will be notable differences between the Turkish and Pakistani corvettes. Firstly, it seems that the PN’s ASW corvettes will not be configured with the combined diesel and gas (CODAG) propulsion suite powering the Turkish Navy’s Ada-class corvettes.[13] Instead, Defence Turkey has hinted that the PN’s ships will rely on combined diesel and diesel (CODAD), which will afford additional endurance (15 days to 10 days) and additional fuel capacity, but with a lower top speed (26 knots vs. 31 knots).[14]

Likewise, Pakistan will be providing some of the ASW corvettes’ subsystems and weapons via Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) approach.[15] Some had speculated that the ASW corvettes’ equipment could, at least in part, come from the PN’s existing ships – e.g. Harpoon Block-II anti-ship missiles (AShM) and/or Phalanx close-in-weapon-systems (CIWS). However, factors such as the remaining life on those weapons as well as the potential complication of integrating them to non-US (i.e. non-approved) sensors and, not least, the prospect of US interference could dampen that scenario.

Thus, it is evident that the PN is not opting for the MILGEM Ada in the Turkish Navy’s configuration. That leaves two alternative options: First, an original configuration with a combination of different subsystems and weapons from various (but interoperable) sources. Second, an off-the-shelf configuration handled by one vendor, but with systems procured from either one or multiple sources.

In terms of an original configuration, the PN could take an approach akin to what it had for the ATR-72 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) program. The PN’s ATR-72 MPA incorporates subsystems from Leonardo, FLIR Systems, Elettronica and AeroMission. In turn, the PN contracted the German company Rheinland Air Service as the prime contractor to integrate, test and validate the MPA system.

The alternative is to work with an experienced contractor that has already developed a sensor, subsystem and weapons package for ASW corvettes. In this case, the package would have to be demonstrated to the PN through a working model, ideally a ship that is already in service. Interestingly, be it the first or second scenario, the same subsystem and weapon vendors could be involved in the process.

Given the precariousness of Pakistan’s defence ties with the US, it is likely that the PN will seek equipment that is not bound by ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations). In this respect – and with the success of the ATR-72 MPA program – existing suppliers with non-ITAR offerings, e.g. Leonardo and Elettronica, could potentially be strong candidates for supplying the PN with subsystems for its ASW corvettes. This is likely to be relatively straightforward in terms of electronics, but weapons are still an open question.

In terms of weapons, the ASW corvettes would require a 76 mm main gun, anti-ship missiles (AShM), anti-air warfare (AAW) weapons – potentially surface-to-air missiles (SAM) or a 35 mm CIWS – and lightweight ASW torpedoes. In theory, if Leonardo is selected it could work with MBDA Italy to provide Pakistan with AShM (e.g. the Otomat), lightweight ASW torpedoes and a 76 mm main gun. However, in terms of a SAM system – especially a pedestal SAM system as the MILGEM Ada does not have space for a vertical-launch system (VLS) – Pakistan will likely need to source from a separate vendor.

In terms of a pedestal-based SAM, a previous Quwa Premium article outlined that the Thales Crotale Naval Mk3 could be a plausible option. The Crotale Naval Mk3’s principal munition, i.e. the VT1 SAM, has a range of 15 km and, not least, it was designed to counteract supersonic-cruising threats.[16] Alternatively, Defense News reported in January 2018 that the Pakistan Navy has an “indigenous air defence missile project.”[17]

The characteristics and capabilities of this supposed SAM are unknown, but seeing how a bulk of the PN’s forthcoming ships would only be able to handle above-deck, pedestal-based SAMs akin to the Crotale Naval Mk3, FL-3000N or Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), a SAM in that league would make sense.

Seeing that indigenization is an apparent goal, one option could be to join an existing developmental effort with the condition of transfer-of-technology, e.g. the Denel Dynamics Cheetah. The Cheetah can be mounted in above-deck/non-hull-penetrating VLS and, in turn, provide both a range of 10 km as well as engagement speed of over Mach 3 (for countering supersonic threats).[18]

[1] Press Release. “Kalashnikov Group presents new assault rifle prototype – AK-308.” Kalashnikov Group. 20 August 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 10 September 2018).

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Kalashnikov Developed a New Machine.” RIA Novosti. 20 August 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 10 September 2018).

[4] John Kennedy. “General Staff Requirement (GSR) New Assault Rifle.” Soldier Systems. 16 July 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 06 August 2018)

[5]  “With Pakistan are friends with an eye on India.” Kommersant. 08 August 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 09 August 2018).

[6] Press Release. “Representatives of the Pakistani defense industry visit PGZ.” PGZ. 17 November 2017. URL:,przedstawiciele-pakistanskiego-przemyslu-obronnego-z-wizyta-w-pgz (Last Accessed: 01 July 2018).

[7] “Russia to supply radar for protecting nuclear power plant in Pakistan.” Russian News Agency TASS. 30 August 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 10 September 2018).

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Russia’s RTI Group to present advanced radars at MAKS-2017 airshow.” Russian News Agency TASS. 17 July 2017. URL: (Last Accessed: 10 September 2018).

[10] Information. “Aviation Research, Indigenization & Development: AvRID.” Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). URL: (Last Accessed: 10 September 2018).

[11] İbrahim Sünnetçi. “T129 ATAK Helicopters and ADA Class Corvettes Sale to Pakistan.” Defence Turkey. Volume 12. Issue 84. 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 10 September 2018).

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Promotional Material. “VT1 Hypervelocity Missile for SHORADS”. Thales. URL: (Last Accessed: 15 March 2018).

[17] Usman Ansari. “Pakistan test-fires indigenous anti-ship missile.” Defense News. 05 January 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 10 September 2018).

[18] Helmoed-Römer Heitman. “Denel Dynamics unveils layered C-RAM system.” IHS Jane’s Missiles & Rockets. 20 June 2018. URL: (Last Accessed: 10 September 2018).

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