Arms for Peace

Patron Lt Gen (Retd) SARDAR F.S. LODI examines in depth the very current topic of arms manufacturing.

An international defence exhibition and seminar was held at the newly built Expo Centre at Karachi from 14 to 17 November, 2000. It was a Government of Pakistan venture conceived and supported by the Armed Forces, sponsored and organised by Pegasus Consultancy (Pvt) Ltd. It was the first tri-service defence exhibition ever held in Pakistan and became the countryís biggest national and commercial event.

There are over 60 international defence exhibitions held around the world during a two-year period, this cycle is repeated. Of these 49 are Western oriented and only 11 are Asia based which include Aerospace Singapore and DSA Malaysia. This is the first time that Pakistan has entered this competitive field of arms export and the international response was very encouraging. This was particularly so from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Over 40 countries sent delegates to the defence exhibition, including China, Russia, France, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Malaysia and Indonesia. 46 delegations arrived from abroad, which included seven defence ministers, eight chiefs of defence staff, and eight chiefs of Armed Forces. Some countries sent more than one delegation. Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Italy sent three delegations each whereas China, Indonesia and France sent two delegations each.

While inaugurating the defence exhibition Pakistan President Rafiq Tarar said that security of the country was one of the essential pre-requisites to economic and social prosperity. He said Pakistan had a large defence production sector, which not only had the surplus capacity to meet the needs of friendly countries, but was also in a position to manufacture quality products for global defence industry. The President said that nations are now not arming for war but arming for peace.

The purpose of the defence exhibition according to the Chief Executive of Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf is to show the world that we have reached the stage where we can export our defence products. The Chief Executive said that promotion of the defence industry will boost exports and generate economic activity in Pakistan, thereby, creating jobs and providing better employment opportunities for the people. He said Pakistan is entering defence export areas where the developed countries are not competing.

Over 200 defence and defence-related firms and organizations from 21 countries showed their equipment and capabilities. Pakistanís prestigious Defence Journal was also represented, so was the Janeís of U.K. Pakistan Armyís defence training institutions also had a stall as they provide military training to many friendly countries. About 60 foreign international firms were represented and showed their wares, these included firms from China, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Czech Republic, Italy, England and France.

From Pakistan nearly 140 firms and organizations had stalls at the defence exhibition. These included the large public sector firms like the Pakistan Ordnance Factories at Wah, Heavy Industries at Taxila, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra, A.Q. Khan Research Laboratories at Kahuta, Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works and Pakistan Steel at Karachi and others. There were a large number of private firms manufacturing weapons and equipment or in many cases doing defence related work unknown to many at home.

As the Chief Executive of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf said that from the inception of Defence Exhibition nearly two years ago to its inauguration on November 14, 2000, IDEAS 2000 has come a long way and matured into a truly international event of economic and commercial significance. The idea and the concept of an International Defence Exhibition was that of the army. Support was provided by the Government of Pakistan through the Ministry of Defence and the three Services. For this major task the private sector of the country was brought in to sponsor and provide the expertise in the field. The firm of Pegasus Consultancy was selected for this purpose. Consequently with the cooperation of the private sector the cost of the exhibition to the government was reduced to a bare minimum.

Pakistanís present defence exports to Europe and the Middle East though on a somewhat modest scale, have doubled in the past two years to $ 50 million. A total of over $ 200 million is, however, earned by a combined defence and defence-related exports and services provided, which include military training and troops for United Nations peace keeping operations worldwide. Pakistanís defence manufacturing capability has been given a boost by its demonstrated nuclear and missile capability, which are visible manifestations of its technological advancement.

Pakistanís medium and long range ground-to-ground ballistic missiles Shaheen and Ghouri were on display but were not available for sale to other countries for obvious reasons. For the army equipment Al Khalid tank was a major attraction. It is a modern and agile main battle tank produced by the Heavy Industries Taxila with Chinese assistance. It weighs 46 tons has a 1200 HP engine and mounts a 125 mm smooth bore gun capable of hitting a target with great accuracy at a distance of 2,500 meters. It has a computerized fire control system, thermal imaging and explosive reactive armour protection.

For a poor country with limited resources it is convenient and profitable to upgrade old equipment than to purchase new and expensive alternates. This is now being undertaken by many countries. Pakistan is upgrading its T-59 series of tanks at the Heavy Industries at Taxila. The tank named Al-Zarrar will now have a powerful 125mm smooth bore gun and an extended firing range of 2,500 meters. The tank has a 700 HP engine and compatible transmission, suspension, gun control and fire control systems. It has also been provided add-on explosive reactive armour for protection.

Another attraction for the foreign visitors was the new Pakistan built Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC M113A2 MK-1). It is an upgraded version of the original APC M113 A2. The APC has armour protection and can carry 13 soldiers including the driver. It has a 265 HP turbo-charged diesel engine giving it a level speed of 68 km/h. It mounts a 12.7mm machine gun. Various forms of bolt-on armour can be added to increase the armour protection of the APC.

A light and wheeled APC for internal crowd control has been manufactured by Taxila Heavy Industries for use of Police and other second-line forces when called out in aid of civil power. The hull of the APC is made of aluminium armour with ricochet angles all around. It mounts a 7.62 mm machine gun on 360 degrees rotating turret facilitating all round control. It seats eight persons with their arms and equipment. For communication with the crowd it has a public address system. It is based on the chassis of a proved commercial vehicle for ease of maintenance and availability of spares.

Officials from the Heavy Industries at Taxila informed the visitors that the tanks and the APCs displayed at the exhibition could also be manufactured according to the individual requirements of the customers. The factory had an in-built capability of doing so.

Pakistan ordnance factories complex at Wah showed an array of small arms and ammunition at their stalls. In the production of ammunition the country has made great progress. Pakistan is now self-sufficient in ammunition requirements of the Army, which includes infantry weapons, artillery guns and tanks. It also produces some ammunition for the Navy and the Air Force. The factories have been exporting some of their products. Last year it amounted to around $ 30 million. The exports are increasing yearly.

Pakistan Machine Tool Factory produces precision arms in one of its divisions. These include 106mm anti-tank recoilless rifles and different calibre of mortars, which are also being exported. The factory displayed some of their products at the defence exhibition. The visitors showed interest in examining these weapons.

Dr. A. Q. Khan Laboratories produces the ANZA hand-held light weight surface-to-air missile. The MK-II which is an improvement on the MK-I, has a maximum effective range of 5,000 meters. It can engage high speed, fast manoeuvring aircraft both fixed wing and rotary owing to its own high speed of 600m/sec. The laboratory also produces anti-tank missile weapon system BAKTAR SHIKAN which can engage targets at a distance of 3,000 meters. The visitors showed keen interest in these weapons.

Aside from the public manufacturing sector, which produces bulk of the weapons for the forces, there were a large number of private firms that have now entered the field of defence weapons and equipment. These firms displayed their wares at the defence exhibition to the surprise of many at home and abroad. To give just two examples, the firm of Alsons Industries (Pvt.) Ltd. manufactures complete mortar bombs including fuses but minus the explosive of 120, 81 and 60mm series. The 81 mm mortar bomb is being exported to France for some years now.

The firm of National Techno-Commercial Services (Pvt.) Ltd. produces what it calls anti-submarine weapons for the Pakistan Navy. These are a type of depth charges used against submerged hostile submarines and are air launched either from a fixed wing aircraft or helicopter. It can effectively disable or partly damage an intruder submarine at an optimum shallow depth of 21 meters. The weapon is ideally suited for coastal defence operations.

Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works Ltd. along with the Naval dockyard are capable of manufacturing submarines, warships, naval support craft and an array of surface ships and smaller boats for commercial use. Great interest was shown in the submarine construction under way at Karachi. Saudi Arabia and Malaysia seemed inclined towards the Agosta 90B being produced with French collaboration. It is a modern submarine with a surface displacement of 1510 to 1730 tons and a maximum speed of 20 knots and a diving depth of 300 meters.

A midget submarine is also produced in Pakistan, which was designed and developed by the Naval dockyard. It has a length of 27.28 meters with a surface displacement of 102 tons. Is capable of a surface speed of 9 KTS and a submerged one of 6 KTS. It can operate to a depth of 100 meters and has torpedo firing tubes and mine laying hooks. These midget submarines have already been exported to Qatar. Some other Middle East countries have also shown interest in acquiring these submarines.

Aircraft manufactured at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra were a great success. The complex consists of four factories. The F-6 Rebuild Factory overhauls Chinese aircraft and weapon systems. The Mirage Rebuild Factory overhauls Mirage III and V aircraft and their engines. It also upgrades F-16 aircraft engines. The Aircraft Manufacturing Factory is the pride of the entire complex. Its products consist of the Mushshak and Super Mushshak aircraft, the K-8 jet trainer in cooperation with China, aerial target drones, ground and other aviation equipment.

The aircraft manufacturing factory has been providing aircraft to the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Army and exporting to Royal Air Force of Oman, Iranian Air Force, Syrian Air Force, Saab Scania of Sweden and Satair of Denmark. The visitors showed great interest in the Super Mushshak and the K-8 aircraft. The Kamra Avionics and Radar Factory is responsible for ground and air radars and radar warning equipment.

Pakistan Steel also had a stall at the exhibition to explain the capabilities of this highly competitive and important industry. Steel is the basic and essential raw material of any industry employing metal components. Under its new management Pakistanís only steel mill is forging ahead and helping its downstream industries, particularly those dealing with heavy military hardware.

A well-organised and interesting stall dealt with the importance of training in the Army. It gave details of various types of training carried out in the different military training institutions of Pakistan. The excellence of these training institutions is well known the world over. Pakistan has been imparting military training to students from friendly countries for many years now. I spent some time at this stall and saw the foreign visitors taking keen interest in the type of training that could be available to their students.

The defence exhibition ended on a high note with an aerial display and firing demonstration held on the last day at the Air Force firing range at Sonmiani located beside the sea, a two hours drive from Karachi. Aircraft overhauled and manufactured in Pakistan gave their aerial display and fired ammunition and dropped those bombs which were made in Pakistan. The super Mushshak gave a fine aerial display as it was put through its paces. It has a new 260 HP engine which gives it a top speed of 145 knots.

The upgraded T-59 and a T-85 tank fired with great accuracy at targets placed at over 2,500 meters. The anti-tank missile Baktar Shikan fired successfully at targets placed at 3,000 meters and earned an applause from the foreign visitors. A Trawl Anti-Mine (TAM) system mounted on a T-55 tank chassis cleared some live mines by exploding them ahead of the tanks. This system has been designed and manufactured in Pakistan.

The first-ever International Defence Exhibition held in Pakistan was a great success on three counts. Firstly, it showed our organizational ability to plan and conduct an international exhibition in accordance with international standards. The standard and the layout of the new halls, the stalls, the outdoor exhibits and the aerial display was very well appreciated by the foreign visitors. Second, the exhibition showed the technological advancement of Pakistan and its ability to defend itself and also to help its friends. Third, Pakistan showed its defence export potential in a big way which was not known earlier at home and abroad.

As the Chief Executive of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf said ďThe defence manufacturing sector is a large component of our industrial base but its direct contribution towards enhancing national revenue through export has been explored only to a limited extent. Our scientists and engineers both in public and private sector have tremendous abilities to design and manufacture a wide range of military systems and components at the medium and upper level of defence technology. It is imperative that we should harness this expertise for making our defence sector an important component of economic growth. In this way we will also be able to reduce the burden on the national exchequer.

In view of the encouraging response from abroad it has been decided by the Government of Pakistan to hold regular defence exhibitions every two years. The next one will now be held in September 2002.