Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pakistan Manufacturing Humvees for US Troops?

A report in Asia Times On Line claims that Pakistan has received secret orders from the US to build 1000 Humvees at HIT (Heavy Industries Taxila). These vehicles are needed urgently for the expected US troop surge in Afghanistan and possibly for more action in Pakistan's FATA region. The apparent reason for secrecy is the political sensitivity amidst strong anti-American sentiments prevailing in Pakistan after recent US military incursions and predator attacks in FATA.

ATOL's Syed Saleem Shahzad claims that the "work on the Humvees has already begun, although the task is being undertaken in secret".

Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) is the backbone of Pakistan's Engineering Industry for the Pakistan Armed Forces, being a combination of multiple industries that has grown into a large military complex in the last decade. It has six major production units. Heavy Industries Taxila is one of the largest defense production facilities in Pakistan with a manpower of over 6500 highly skilled personnel and engineers trained in the field of defense production. Out of the 6500 employees, about 30% are uniformed personnel.

The Organization provides facilities for the overhaul, rebuilding and manufacturing of Main Battle Tanks, Armored Recovery Vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carriers and has recently developed and produces MBT-2000 Al-Khalid Tank. In addition it rebuilds, upgrades and modernizes Armored Vehicles of various origins.

Humvees for the US troops are currently produced by AM General, an American heavy vehicle manufacturer based in South Bend, Indiana. While HIT has been exporting heavy armaments to many countries, the reported Humvee order represents the first major HIT deal for the U.S.

Earlier in July of this year, Major General Mohammad Farooq, Director General of the Defense Export Promotion Organization, had indicated that collaboration with the United States had increased in manufacturing armored personnel carriers "with transfer of technology".

According to a July report in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, General Farooq claimed that Pakistan’s defense exports have tripled to around $300 million because of the quality of its ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, rocket launchers and shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. He said exports to South Asian, Middle Eastern and African countries had increased significantly.

General Farooq said optical instruments like night vision devices, laser range-finders and designators, laser threat sensors, artillery armor mortars and munition, mine detectors, anti-tank rifles, missile boats, different types of tear gases, fuses of unarmed vehicles, security equipment and sporting and hunting guns were also being manufactured in Pakistan.

“The fuses are being purchased by countries like Italy, France and Spain,” he said.

In reply to a question, he told Dawn, Pakistan’s military exports were higher than India’s. “Indians started working on Arjun tank but, they are yet to induct it in their army, while Pakistan has built and handed over Al Khalid tank to the army, although it started the program later,” he said.

Lately, Pakistan has come under severe criticism by human rights groups for being a leading manufacturer and exporter of land-mines, cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions.

While the reported US order for a thousand Humvees is an opportunity for Pakistan to earn badly needed foreign exchange, it could become a serious political headache for Zardari administration. The deal could also raise hackles of those in the United States who oppose any vehicle-related outsourcing when the US auto industry is in deep trouble.


Anonymous said...

I will take Salim's words with a grain of salt... his predictions and analysis has been very shallow... Reading his articles in Asia Times on regular basis, I concluded that he is just a noise machine who is clinging to a subject that is beyond his grasp.
If Pakistani defense production has gone up then so what? And so what if humwees are produced in Texila? It is a manufacturing base and whatever a country has to do for trade and commerce it has to do...

Unknown said...

i don't believe it either. the federal government is required by law to only deal with the contractors pre-approved by congress. so even if Pakistan provided a better offer, the u.s government is obligated to complete their contract with AM general. if the contract expires then manufactures have to submit bids for approval. which means we would hear it all over American news, considering the loss of jobs to overseas is a hot topic in America. also with the mixed emotions about Pakistan. strategically it would be a great move. not only to cut the cost of shipping humvees to be used by the Pakistani military. it would also provide jobs, Zardari in an announcement the other day called upon once again the military to relinquish control to the civilian government. although that announcement was geared to create a more cohesive and effective campaign on extremists. the trickle down would see the replacement of uniformed workers to civilian. but does Pakistan really want to make themselves a producer of weapons. look at all the other leading weapon production countries. like in America, it too will create a conflict of interests.
in America its called the industrialized military complex, it helped to continue the Vietnam war. it first became a necessity, then a profitable endeavor, and it still has its fingers in almost every facet of American government.

Riaz Haq said...

I am not sure about the veracity of Salim Shahzad's report. But I do believe it's within the realm of possibility, as confirmed by Gen Farooq's remarks about US "transfer of technology" to HIT for armored vehicles. I believe there is a clause in US defense contracts that permits the Pentagon to order from another supplier if the primary supplier can not fill the order in a timely manner. I think the troop surge in Afghanistan is happening at an accelerated pace and they need more Humvees than AM General can supply.

Riaz Haq said...

I think Pakistan Army, like China's PLA (People's Liberation Army) is very good at setting up and managing industries. In the absence of a strong private sector in heavy manufacturing in Pakistan, Pakistan Army has no choice but to fill the gap. It'll probably change with time as the private investors see opportunity and decide to come in and build more plants.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PakistanToday report on railway carriage restoration in Islamabad coach factory:

Islamabad Carriage Factory has rehabilitated 690 old coaches during the last three years, making them durable for another 20 years, an official said on Tuesday.

The factory which was established with the cooperation of the German government is capable of manufacturing 150 German-designed coaches each year.

"The Carriage Factory rehabilitated 20 coaches of meter gauge for Senegal Railway and manufactured new six slipper coaches for the Pakistan Army," an official told APP.

He said out of 400 dysfunctional coaches, 275 had been rehabilitated whereas work on the rest was already in progress. He added that the restoration of these coaches would help Pakistan Railways achieve progress.

The official said that Pakistan Railways would receive also 202 new coaches against a cost of around Rs 16 billion to improve its operations and to facilitate its passengers.

Out of the 202 coaches of various types, Pakistan Railways received 65 coaches in Completely Built Unit condition which are being utilised with different trains plying across the country.

He said the new coaches had the capacity to run at the speed of 160 km per hour but due to the dilapidated rail track it would run at 120 km.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's DefenseNews on Pak plans for new heavy armored vehicles:

Faced with mounting casualties among security forces from roadside bomb attacks in its Tribal Areas, Pakistan is set to reveal an indigenous mine-resistant vehicle.

A spokesperson for Pakistan’s state-owned vehicle manufacturer, Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), has confirmed that its Burraq mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle is nearing the end of its prototype phase and will be unveiled in “three to four months.” The announcement comes after years of development and failed efforts to acquire such a vehicle from other sources.

The need for an MRAP is great, and the military has acknowledged the considerable menace improvised explosive devices (IEDs) pose to security forces, particularly in the Tribal Areas along the Afghan-Pakistan border in fighting with the Taliban.

In what was perhaps the largest loss of life from an IED attack to date, 14 soldiers were killed and 25 wounded during a Jan. 13 attack on a Pakistani Army convoy in Waziristan.

Pakistan has reportedly sought better protected vehicles from as far away as Germany, Turkey and the U.S. However, a lack of financial resources seems to have hampered those efforts.

Failure to acquire an off-the-shelf solution ultimately led to the development of an indigenous answer.

However, as of November, with no news of the Burraq entering production and its non-appearance at Pakistan’s biannual exhibition, IDEAS2012, many analysts began to believe it had been quietly shelved. An order for an undetermined number of Poly Group Corporation Type CS/VP3 MRAP vehicles from China at IDEAS2012 reinforced that notion.

Hitherto, HIT has produced mostly tracked armored fighting vehicles, with some lightly armored four-wheel-drive and Toyota Corolla sedans its sole wheeled products.

According to HIT, the wheeled Burraq will carry 12 passengers and a crew of two. It has standard protection features similar to other MRAPs and will be open for export.

The 8-to-10-ton vehicle can withstand IED blasts of up to 10 kilograms, can be armed with a .50-caliber heavy machine gun (protected against fire from a similar weapon), as well as being fitted with bulletproof windows and run-flat tires. The occupants sit on blast-mitigating seats.

A former Australian defense attaché to Islamabad, Brian Cloughley, was given a briefing on the Burraq during a visit to HIT last year. He said he was impressed with what he saw.

“It appears that the Burraq is a mid-tech and affordable protective vehicle that should serve the defense forces well,” he said.

He said he was also “impressed with the proposed manufacturing process and with what I was told about its technical parameters, which, while not as advanced as U.S. or European equivalents, which are vastly expensive, seem to be adequate to counter the current IED threat.”

Having garnered a considerable amount of data from IED blasts, it appears Pakistan is able to adapt its designs to meet requirements, which Cloughley said is reflected in the Burraq’s design.

“The high profile is caused by the ‘V’-shaped underside, which is so necessary to minimize the effects of mines and IEDs, and although details of the degree of protection afforded are understandably kept confidential, I was told that analysis of the effects of IED incidents showed that Burraq’s armor configuration could cope well,” he said....


Riaz Haq said...

Here's Daily Times on Karachi shipbuilder delivering for Pakistan Navy:

KARACHI: Two pusher tugs constructed at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works were formally handed over to Pakistan Navy on Tuesday in a ceremony held at Karachi Shipyard.

Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Muhammad Shafiq was the chief guest on the occasion. Addition of these pusher tugs in Pakistan Navy fleet is an important milestone achieved towards self-reliance. Pakistan Navy has also signed a contract with KS&EW for construction of a 15,000-tonne capacity fleet tanker.

Addressing the ceremony, the chief guest said that while Pakistan’s geographical location and geostrategic environment essentially necessitates building of a strong and balanced Navy to defend our maritime interests; realisation of our force goals through foreign acquisitions only is becoming increasingly difficult.

The changing geo-political dynamics also suggest that the access to the foreign defence technologies, particularly in the high-end domains would be either denied or hard to come by in the coming year. Accordingly, self-reliance has been at the fore front of policies, and it is in this context, Pakistan Navy has been supporting and interacting closely with the local defence industries, particularly Karachi Shipyard to make a steady progress towards indigenisation.

Appreciating the efforts of Karachi Shipyard, the Admiral said that Karachi Shipyard has delivered up to our expectations and has been a major support to PN Fleet for new constructions as well as for repair of ships. Karachi Shipyard also deserves acclaim for its revival and unprecedented progress during testing times when the global shipping industry as a whole is on the decline.

It is well poised to manifest its potential of undertaking major shipbuilding and engineering projects for the country and also for the foreign clients, to earn and save valuable foreign exchange. Recent award of contract for construction of 15,000-tonne capacity fleet tanker by PN is manifestation of the same. He assured of all-out support of Pakistan Navy to KS&EW for its revitalisation so that all future growth plans are timely materialised.

Earlier in his welcome address, Rear Admiral Syed Hasan Nasir Shah, Managing Director Karachi Shipyard gave a brief account of the progress of Karachi Shipyard and underlined the projects being undertaken for Pakistan Navy. He mentioned that presently KS&EW is undertaking construction of 5 Pakistan Navy vessels.

He apprised that the 4th F-22 P Frigate PNS ASLAT has successfully completed all harbour and sea trials and will be handed over to PN in April this year. In addition, a Fast Attack Missile Craft and a 32-tonne tug are also under construction and will be handed over to PN as per the contractual schedule. The ceremony was attended by a large number of PN officers, engineers and technicians of Karachi Shipyard