Pakistan has had long-standing defence ties with Turkey
New Delhi: Cementing defence ties further, Pakistan is in the process of buying anti-tank guided weapon systems (ATGWs) from its long-term ally Turkey.
According to sources in the defence and security establishment, Islamabad is also considering co-production of the ATGWs along with the Turkish weapons manufacturer Roketsan.
Designed to destroy an adversary’s tanks and other armoured vehicles, anti-tank guided weapon systems or missiles can be short, medium or long-range.
Rokestan offers a range of anti-tank weapon systems including the man-portable KARAOK, a short-range fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile with an imaging infrared seeker. Other ATGWs part of its catalogue include the OMTAS, a medium-range anti-tank weapon system, and UMTAS — a long-range anti-tank missile system developed primarily for integration with attack helicopters, according to Roketsan’s website.
Though Pakistan has had long-standing defence ties with Turkey, the two countries have in recent years forged closer military cooperation through co-production of combat jets and missiles.
In August this year, reports hinted that Pakistan was poised to join the programme for development of Turkish Aerospace Industries’ (TAI) 5th-generation Kaan fighter aircraft, also known as TF-X. Nearly 200 Pakistani officials and engineers were reportedly involved in the development of the fighter programme even before the two governments decided to make it official. The stealth aircraft made its first taxiway earlier this year and likely has a takeoff weight of 27,000 kg and a top-speed of Mach 2.
“Pakistan and Turkey are preparing for first flight of the fifth-generation fighter jet. They are working to conduct the first flight of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft TF-X by December 2023,” said one source.
In November last year, the then Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey jointly inaugurated the corvette warship PNS Khyber. This was the third of four corvette ships being built by Turkey for the Pakistani Navy as part of a strategic cooperation program.
Back in 2018, Turkish state-owned defence contractor Savunma Teknolojileri ve Mühendislik (STM) bagged a contract for a mid-life upgrade of one of three of Pakistan Navy’s Agosta 90B-class (Khalid-class) diesel-electric attack submarines.
Pakistan is also among the first buyers of Turkish defence manufacturer Baykar’s Kemankes cruise missile, equipped with an AI-supported autopilot system.
Islamabad has at least three Turkish-made UAVs in its inventory, namely Bayraktar TB2, Bayraktar Akıncı and Bayraktar TB3. In 2021, Pakistan’s National Engineering & Scientific Commission (NESCOM) and TAI signed an agreement to produce Anka UAVs in Pakistan.
Over the past few years, Pakistan’s dependence on Turkey for maintenance and upgradation of its weapon systems has increased owing to its strained relations with the West.
TAI reportedly upgraded as many as 41 F16 aircraft in service with the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) as part of a contract signed in 2009. The last of these aircraft, made by American defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin, were delivered in 2014. Besides avionics and structural modernisation, TAI also reportedly imparted training to PAF’s F16 pilots.
Furthermore, it is learnt that the Pakistan Army has also signed a contract for the procurement of an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) system, under the scope of project AGILE, with Italian defence manufacturer Elettronica. The Integrated Site Acceptance and Testing (ISAT) for this system will likely be carried out in Pakistan. ELINT systems gather and analyse information such as radar transmissions using electronic sensors.