Sunday, August 30, 2009

NY Times Harpoon Aims at Heart of Pak Aid Bill

The New York Times is quoting unnamed senior Obama administration and Congressional officials as claiming that the United States is accusing Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets, a potential threat to India.

American military and intelligence officials reportedly say they suspect that Pakistan has modified the Harpoon antiship missiles that the United States sold the country in the 1980s, a move that would be a violation of the Arms Control Export Act. Pakistan has denied the charge, saying it developed the missile itself. The United States has also accused Pakistan of modifying American-made P-3C aircraft for land-attack missions, another violation of United States law that the Obama administration has protested.

According to a senior Pakistani official, Pakistan has taken the unusual step of agreeing to allow American officials to inspect the country’s Harpoon inventory to prove that it had not violated the law, a step that the US administration officials praised.

Independent experts are also skeptical of the alleged American claims, according to Asian Defense blog. Robert Hewson, editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, a yearbook and Web-based data service, has said the Harpoon missile did not have the necessary range for a land-attack missile, which would lend credibility to Pakistani claims that they are developing their own new missile. Moreover, he said, Pakistan already has more modern land-attack missiles that it developed itself or acquired from China.

According to Tech Lahore blog, Pakistan's Raa’d missile has been mated with Mach 2 capable Mirages and is now being integrated with Pakistan’s new fighter, the JF-17. The missile can be launched from a stand-off distance of almost 500km and employs more sophisticated guidance than the Harpoon. This raises the question as to why would Pakistan want to attack land targets with a slow, bulky aircraft like the P-3, firing shorter range Harpoon missiles, when it’s air force already has almost 175 Mirage aircraft with Raa’d cruise missiles and recently added in-flight refueling capability?

“They’re beyond the need to reverse-engineer old U.S. kit,” said Mr. Hewson about Pakistan's current capabilities. “They’re more sophisticated than that.” Mr. Hewson said the ship-to-shore missile that Pakistan was testing was part of a concerted effort to develop an array of conventional missiles that could be fired from the air, land or sea to address India’s much more formidable conventional missile arsenal.

Recently, the US has signed a nuclear cooperation deal with India and offered to sell over $2 billion worth of sophisticated weaponry, further enhancing India's military might.

Coming just a week before the $7.5 billion aid-to-Pakistan bill goes to the US senate, it is clear that the timing and the motives of Eric Schmitt and David Sanger of the New York Times “leak” are highly suspicious. It fits a pattern of "leaks" in Washington to either defeat or add poison pill amendments to any legislation likely to aid to Pakistan. Such well-timed "leaks” to the New York Times, known for similar well-timed "leaks" about Iraq WMDs prior to the ill-conceived US invasion of the middle eastern nation, are most likely inspired by the Israeli and Indian lobbies in Washington who are irrevocably opposed to any US assistance to Pakistan.

Past hypocritical denials of US weapons to Pakistan while offering modern offensive weapons to India has been a blessing in disguise for Pakistani military and its defense industry. Every time US has embargoed or quibbled over some insignificant little "arms control" violations with Pakistan, Pakistanis have responded to the challenge by developing their own indigenous capabilities. Such developments not only help strengthen the nation's defenses, domestic defense production also aids in developing human skills, enhancing arms exports and providing badly-needed jobs to many.

Here's a video clip about Pakistan's arms expo IDEAS 2008:

Related Links:

Pakistan's Defense Industry Goes High Tech

US Arms Sales to India

Pakistan Launches UAV Production at Kamra

Asian Defense

Pakistan's Defense Production Going High Tech

Flying High in Korangi: Pakistani Drones

Growing India-Israel Defense Collaboration

Pakistan Military Business and Industrial Revolution

Jane's Defense Industry Briefing on Pakistan

India-Pakistan Military Balance

Pakistan's Arms Industry

India's Israeli Supported UAV Plans

Pakistan Defense Production

Dinar Standard

Washington Offers Predators to Germany, Italy

Demolishing India's War Myths about Pakistan

Chuck Yeager on Pakistan Air Force


Anonymous said...

West is one hell lot of crooks who try to twist and turn the facts to their convenience.

I am not getting into the details of whether the claim of Americans are right or wrong, but the way in which it has been brought when MARSHAL plan of west to revive pakistan has come to discussion.

Further american are now wary about the growing the coziness between pakistan and china where china wants to create a nuisance factor for india growth ambition as it feels that usa is promoting india as a nuisance value for it growing ambition.

Finally i feel every country requires to fights its own battle and nobody is going to help anybody unless it is usefull for themself. Today USA is NOT HELPING india by the nuclear deal but it is opening up a country for its defense industry to sell its equipments.

Anita said...

I think you are right, Riaz.. it was a mis-aimed leak. But Pakistan-US relations are really tense at the moment, and the way it looked to me the US was really on the back foot over there. The rumour mill about the new Embassy is out of control.. and the US doesn't know how to dampen the flames. They really are NOT filling the place with marines.. but you try now persuading any ordinary Pakistani that they are not.

Riaz Haq said...

NY Times Columnist Tom Friedman has written very critically and extensively about how the design and size US embassies and America's obsession with security has alienated even the US allies around the world.

In a column titled "Where Birds Don't Fly", he described how the Turks are unhappy with the new US consulate in Ankara.
You can read it here.

Also, in his book "The World is Hot, Flat and Crowded", Friedman describes an incident in Holland where the US officials showed up with a huge security detail that pushed and shoved the Dutch citizens in downtown Hague and raised their ire. You can read more about it here:

Anita said...

Fascinating. Thank you for that. I could add some very amusing stories from London and the dramas with the US Embassy there. In the end, they made life in Grosvenor Square SO intolerable for the other residents (some of whom were also quite rich and powerful) that the landowner the Duke of Westminster REFUSED to renew their lease on the property and they had to move elsewhere.

There was a great story that at one point they asked Buckingham Palace if they could lease the now-half-empty Kensington Palace (where Princess Diana used to live). History does not yet give us the uncensored response of the Queen, but apparently she was not amused...

Riaz Haq said...

I think the US Embassy in Kensington Palace would simply reinforce the US imperial image.
Don't you think the Queen did Americans a favor by refusing? Isn't that what friends are for?

Jeech said...

No doubt, Mr.Haq, you alone are doing great!!! ...and brief work on the subject... The most beloved feature of your work is that you place related stuffs at the bottom of the post. Thanks.

Riaz Haq said...

Thank you, Jeech.

Anonymous said...


If you disagree with the article in NY times pick on the author and the American agencies who leaked the information. Why blame India or Israel for it?

Riaz Haq said...


It is a modern platform with the room to carry current as well as future subsystems. Yes, it is not a high-performance platform like the Dassault Rafale, but it is a platform capable of using most (if not potentially all) of the very same munitions and subsystems found on pricier alternatives. The only real bottleneck would be Pakistan’s financial capacities.

The JF-17 is equipped with the KLJ-7 mechanically-steered pulse-Doppler radar (developed by the Nanjing Research Institute of Electronic Technology or NRIET). The KLJ-7 can track targets from 75km (at 3m2 RCS – i.e. radar cross-section, an object’s detectability on radar) to 85km (at 5m2 RCS). The KLJ-7 can track up to 10 targets at beyond visual range, and simultaneously engage two with active-radar air-to-air missiles, such as the SD-10.

The SD-10 is an active radar-guided BVRAAM with an approximate range of at least 70km. It functions in a similar manner to the AIM-120C5 (in use with the PAF’s F-16 Block-52+ and MLUs). The SD-10 is equipped with an active radar-guidance seeker as well as data-link supported inertial guidance system. The latter enables the SD-10 to be deployed mid-way to its prospective target, and in a later stage (i.e. the terminal or final stage) the active radar-guidance seeker can kick in to engage the target. Specific performance parameters are difficult to come by, but some have been willing to compare it to the AIM-120, such as Australian defence analyst Dr. Carlo Kopp.

The PL-5EII is the JF-17’s core within visual range air-to-air missile. Although derived from an older platform, the PL-5EII is rated by its chief vendor the China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) as “an improved 3rd generation short-range IR air-to-air missile, which features good anti-jamming capability and all-aspect attack capability.” Dr. Carlo Kopp put the PL-5EII in the same general category as the AIM-9M (which is also used by the PAF’s Block-52+ and MLU F-16s).

In looking at the JF-17’s air-to-surface munitions suite, one must recognize that the PAF has yet to disclose exactly how it intends to arm the platform. However, CATIC is marketing the JF-17 with a whole host of precision-strike weapons in the form of the LT-2, LS-3, LS-6, C-802A and CM-400AKG.

The LT-2 is a laser-guided bomb kit designed for standard general purpose bombs (GPB). It is basically used to equip a GPB (such as potentially the Mk.82) with a laser-based guidance kit. Unlike satellite-aided PGBs, laser guided bombs (LGBs) can be used on a standalone basis, i.e. without the support of a satellite-network. The effectiveness of LGBs can suffer however from poor weather conditions, though the WMD-7 targeting pod could compensate for this to an extent.

The LS-3 and LS-6 are satellite-based PGB kits for 250kg and 500kg GPBs, respectively, and are similar to the Boeing Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kit for Mk-82 and Mk-83 GPBs. Like the JDAM, the LS-3/6 is meant to augment an existing GPB with a guidance-system and glide-system, enabling the bomb to not only be more precise, but exhibit more range. In fact, the more apt comparison for the LS-3/6 would be the JDAM-ER (short for ‘Extended Range’), a stand-off munition.

The C-802A and CM-400AKG are anti-ship missiles (AShM). The C-802A is in line with emulating the Harpoon and Exocet-series of AShM, but the CM-400AKG is marketed as a high-speed missile designed to engage large ships such as aircraft carriers.

Riaz Haq said...


JF-17s have been used in combat

AC Mahmood confirmed to DIB that the JF-17 had seen use in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where “it has employed both guided and unguided munitions.” In other words, the JF-17’s precision-strike capabilities have been tested and put to use. I imagine the JF-17s were primarily using laser-guided bombs, likely LT-2, but I would not discount satellite-aided LS-3 and LS-6 munitions either (see this piece for an overview of the JF-17’s munitions inventory). It is likely that the JF-17’s LGBs have been paired with the Chinese WMD-7 targeting pod (Defense News).

Indigenous data-link network in use?

Although an ancillary comment, AC Mahmood stated that “a national solution” was being used to connect the JF-17 to “on and off-board sensors.”

If you are not familiar with the concept, a data-link network basically enables various assets to communicate and exchange information from their sensors in near real-time. For example, an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft could pick up incoming enemy aircraft and, nearly instantly, pass that exact information (with continuous updates) to friendly fighters. The network environment gives your side a live “picture” of the battlefield situation, enabling every friendly actor on the field to have an accurate and constantly up-to-date understanding of the situation.

The PAF uses the American Link-16 system with its F-16s, though it is not entirely clear if the Erieye AEW&C is equipped with Link-16. That said, it should be noted that Saab listed Link-16 (along with Link-11 and an “in-house data link”) as an option.

Although the JF-17 Block-3 has been discussed in detail, including on this very website, it helps to know exactly what has been confirmed and what has not.

AC Mahmood has confirmed that an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar is being pursued, with the Chinese vendor Nanjing Research of Electronic Technology (NRIET) among the options being studied. The inclusion of an AESA radar would be a significant jump for the JF-17 (see here as to how and why), but a few important assumptions need to be made about the JF-17 Block-3, especially if the PAF intends to make it a substantive improvement over Block-2.

One of the general challenges with AESA radars is the impact these radars can have on weight and power consumption in the fighter. If the PAF intends to include AESA radars with the intention of maintaining or even improving the radar detection and engagement range of the Block-2, it will need a lighter airframe and more powerful engine.

While AC Mahmood did not confirm that a new engine will be used on JF-17, he did confirm that the PAF was studying its options, and that “the best equipment will find its way into the aircraft.” I think in the end the PAF would choose either the Russian RD-93MA or Chinese WS-13.

In any case, I firmly hope the Block-3 makes much greater use of composite materials and a new engine, these essentials would set up the Thunder to be up to task for most of the aerial threats facing the PAF. A larger and more powerful aircraft might also open up the doors to special warfare variants, such as strike and electronic warfare.

The PAF is also looking at its Helmet Mounted Display/Sight (HMD/S) and Infrared Search and Track (IRST) options. Again, specific details are non-existent, but I did discuss what might be the case in regards to the HMD/S. As for the IRST, this would be an interesting route for the PAF, I will direct you to Tyler Rogoway of Foxtrot Alpha for a clear and succinct explanation of IRST systems (note I have gone on a pretty big tangent here, if you are just interested in knowing what Air Commodore Khalid Mahmood said, then you can skip this section):