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Monthly Defense News Recap – August 2022

Pakistan Navy Inducts Second Type 054A/P Frigate – PNS Taimur

The Pakistan Navy (PN) has taken delivery of its second Type 054A/P multi-mission frigate – PNS Taimur.

The PN commissioned the PNS Taimur in June in with a ceremony in China. The PNS Taimur joins its sister-ship – and lead Type 054A/P frigate – the PNS Tughril, which was inducted in January.

The third and fourth Tughril-class frigates were launched for sea trials in August 2021 and January 2022, respectively. Based on the launch and delivery schedules of the two preceding ships, the PN should receive its final two Type 054A/Ps by early 2023 at the latest.

With a displacement of over 4,000 tons, the Tughril-class frigate is the largest of the PN’s upcoming new-generation warships. The multi-mission platform is capable of anti-ship warfare (AShW), anti-air warfare (AAW), and anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

While fitted with stock Chinese sensors and munitions, the PN’s Type 054A/Ps carry a number of notable differences compared to the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) Type 054A frigates.

For example, the PLAN’s Type 054As are equipped with the standard dual, quad-cell configuration for the YJ-83 subsonic anti-ship cruising missile (ASCM).

In contrast, the Tughril-class frigate is fitted a dual, two-cell missile configuration. The Tughril-class frigate could be armed with a supersonic-cruising ASCM, like the CM-302. The CM-302 (or some other supersonic-cruising ASCM) would also amount of a major capability gain for the PN.

Overall, the Tughril-class frigate is a key piece of the PN’s fleet revitalization and expansion plans. In fact, the PN aims to operate a fleet of around 20 “major surface vessels.”

In addition to the Type 054A/Ps, the Jinnah-class frigate  – which will be jointly designed and produced by Turkey and Pakistan – will also serve a central role in the PN’s fleet expansion.

However, China is playing a central role in helping the PN modernize and grow its sub-surface fleet. While the eight new Hangor-class submarines are in a state of limbo due to Germany’s refusal to supply engines, Beijing and Rawalpindi will likely resolve the issue (e.g., use a Chinese engine instead).

Finally, the PN is also working to grow its aviation component through a combination of original projects (e.g., the Sea Sultan long-range maritime patrol aircraft) and second-hand helicopters.

Turkey Makes Fresh Progress on SIPER Long-Range SAM Program

Turkey’s President of Defense Industries (SSB), Dr. İsmail Demir announced that the latest tests of Turkey’s homegrown long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM), the SIPER, showed that the SAM could reach a range of 100 km. The test marked a significant milestone for the Turkish defence industry.

Turkey initiated the development of an indigenous long-range SAM in 2018. The program kicked off after Ankara was unable to acquire the Chinese HQ-9 due to concerns from its NATO partners.

Under the original plan, the SSB mobilized Turkey’s national defence contractors Aselsan and Roketsan to collaborate with one of the country’s premier R&D arms, TÜBİTAK SAGE, on the project. Furthermore, the joint-Italian-French consortium, Eurosam, was also to support the Turkish program in some capacity.

Turkey first carried out the test of the SIPER Block-I in November 2021. It had intended from the onset to achieve a maximum range of 100 km and an altitude coverage of over 20 km. However, the SSB reportedly stated that it will continue developing the SIPER into a multi-block/variant series. This series could include a SIPER Block-II and, potentially, a Block-III with a range of 150 km.

In terms of design, the SIPER uses a dual-pulse motor rocket (DPMR) motor with thrust-vectoring. This is likely a continuation of Turkey’s DPMR work for the HISAR short and medium-range SAMs.

Turkey is aiming to induct the SIPER into operational service from 2023. It is possible that the SIPER forms the mainstay of Turkey’s long-range air defence capabilities on both land and at sea. The latter could drive the development of a new indigenous vertical launch system (VLS).

The progress of the SIPER program shows Turkey’s growing prowess in developing defence technologies. In fact, the SIPER is a sign that the country is starting to breach advanced and largely restricted domains available to very few countries in the world.

Images Emerge of a Pakistani J-10CE With a Peculiar Camouflage

Recently, photos emerged on social media of a Pakistani J-10CE with a new green and grey camouflage.

Not only is this a break from the usual gray camouflage of the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) new fighters, but it seems to reference back to the PAF’s legacy Mirage III/5s.

The aviation journalist and observer Andreas Rupprecht believes that the distinctly coloured J-10CE is a one-off and not a design the PAF will apply to more aircraft. If accurate, this could mean that this specific J-10CE is paying homage to the PAF’s legacy Mirage III/5s.

That said, some might speculate that the green and grey camouflage could point towards the PAF’s goals to use the J-10CE as a strike aircraft. However, the camouflage has little bearing on whether the PAF will use the J-10CE for strike. In fact, when it inducted the J-10CE, the PAF’s Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Zaheer Ahmad Babar, said the J-10CE can carry stand-off range weapons (SOW).

Thus, the PAF likely has a vision of eventually using the J-10CE in the strike role. However, because it has a limited number of J-10CEs in the roadmap at this time, it is unlikely to use the fighter in the strike role in the near term. Rather, the JF-17 Block-3 and, potentially, an upgraded JF-17 Block-2 will likely carry the role in the foreseeable future until the PAF inducts more J-10CEs.

The PAF has never inducted a new fighter platform without committing to at least 80-90 aircraft. Be it the Mirage III/5, F-6, F-16, F-7, or the JF-17, the PAF has always set a roadmap for at least five to six squadrons over a period of 10 to 15 years. Thus, additional J-10CEs beyond the initial batch (which could amount to around 24 to 36 aircraft) will come, likely through the rest of the 2020s.

In fact, it would not be surprising if the J-10CE and JF-17 Block-3 are the centerpiece of the PAF’s fighter modernization plans for the foreseeable future. Currently, there are no readily available next-generation fighter aircraft (NGFA) on the market. Thus, should India make any new fighter acquisitions, the PAF’s next move could simply be to acquire additional J-10CEs.

However, if this specific J-10CE is a one-off homage, it will be interesting to see if the PAF orders additional one-off examples. One could potentially see individual units bearing various camouflages, such as desert-style compositions (like the A-5C) or, potentially, a single-color scheme in only one shade of grey.

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