Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pakistan Launches UAV Production Line at Kamra

At a ceremony held at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra, last Thursday, Air Marshal Farhat Hussain Khan, the chairman of the PAC board, announced the launch of Falco UAV production in Pakistan in collaboration with Selex Galileo of Italy. Speaking on the occasion, the Air Marshal said the UAV co-production facility was a major step towards the long-term goal of self-reliance in military aviation industry.

In the opinion of this blogger, it is expected that most Pakistanis will take pride in the nation's indigenous capacity to build and eventually use armed drones to put down the insurgent groups such as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who have unleashed a reign of terror in Pakistani towns and cities. Most such attacks cause large numbers of innocent civilian casualties and powerful, palpable anger against the responsible groups.

Many Pakistanis will also see the development and manufacturing of UAVs positively in the context of Pakistan's competition with archrival India's UAV effort backed by the Israelis. But there are some elements in Pakistan who are irrevocably opposed to any military action by US or Pakistan against the Taliban or Al Qaeda and their allies. They will loudly oppose the the development, manufacture and use of drones against any internal insurgency, just as they have opposed the US drones attacking targets in Pakistan's FATA region. Fortunately, support for such groups on both the left and the right is rapidly declining, especially after the reported killing of Baitullah Mehsud who was seen as public enemy #1 by the vast majority of Pakistanis.

While it is absolutely desirable for Pakistan to replicate US Predator capabilities and become self-reliant to avoid the political backlash when US predator strikes claim innocent Pakistani civilian lives, I doubt if it'll happen any time soon. While Washington has offered the UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) technology to its allies in Europe, it has been reluctant to make it available to Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Indians are likely to get the US armed drone know-how through the Israelis.

The growing interest by Pakistani military and also foreign companies and governments has helped spawn several private Pakistani UAV companies specializing in air-frames, launch and propulsion, flight control, tele-command and control systems, signal intelligence, training simulators, etc. In addition to Integrated Dynamics, other private companies involved in UAV development and manufacturing include, East-West Infinity, Satuma and Global Industrial Defense Solutions.

Pakistan UAV1
Flamingo - Satuma Pakistan

Pakistan UAV 2
Mukhbar- Satuma Pakistan

Pakistan UAV Uqaab
Uqaab - Air Weapons Complex

I think the current generation of Pakistani drones, including the Italian designed Falco, are not at all comparable to the larger US drones armed with powerful Hellfire missiles and sophisticated targeting technology which still results in serious errors. Regardless of the sophistication of drones, such errors can only be reduced by improving the accuracy and reliability of the human intelligence on the ground in FATA.

Here's a recent report by Farhan Bokhari of Jane's Defense Weekly on Falco production launch in Pakistan:

The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Pakistan's chief aircraft manufacturing facility, has formally launched plans to part-produce the Falco unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a system already acquired by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) from Italian company Selex Galileo. The project, unveiled on 20 August, will result in some of the Falco's parts being manufactured domestically to reduce reliance on Italian imports.

The new programme marks an important step towards achieving an indigenous UAV capability - something seen as increasingly important to the PAF as it expands its role in the country's war against militants across North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, the chief of staff of the PAF, told Jane's earlier in August about the PAF's growing role in supporting anti-terrorism operations. UAVs are understood to be central to these efforts. Earlier this year, the Pakistani military successfully blocked an advance by Taliban militants in and around the northern Swat valley, with the PAF "carrying out several strikes on Taliban strongholds" following UAV surveillance, according to a senior Pakistani security official.

The PAC chairman Air Marshal Farhat Hussain Khan said at the project's opening ceremony that continued use of the Falco "would greatly enhance the PAF's operational capability". Western defence officials in Islamabad told Jane's that Pakistan would eventually seek another armed UAV or work with Selex Galileo to develop a weaponised version of the Falco. "Today, the Falco UAV is principally for [reconnaissance] and intel-gathering purposes," said one official. "But I am sure the Pakistanis will eventually try to go for UAVs armed with missiles."

The launch of the Falco project precedes the PAC's roll-out, expected later this year, of the first locally built JF-17 fighter, an aircraft jointly developed by the PAC and China's Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC). The PAF plans to acquire at least 250 JF-17s to form the backbone of its fighter fleet. "The Falco UAV and the JF-17 both fit into the same philosophy, which is to reduce reliance wherever possible on imports," said the Western official. "Over time, Pakistan seems to be getting into handling more and more sophisticated technology."

Falco UAV Finds Pakistan A Most Suitable Environment

The Pakistan Air force has initiated the start of the Falco UAV Co-Production Project. The project was inaugurated at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra last Thursday, with Air Marshal Farhat Hussain Khan, Chairman, PAC Board, was the featured guest at the occasion. Falco is an advanced tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) designed by Selex Galileo, Italy, and will be co-produced by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra. The Falco UAV will address the present and future surveillance and reconnaissance needs of the Pakistan Air Force. Speaking on the occasion, Air Marshal Farhat Hussain said the addition of UAV co-production facility would be a major step towards the long-term goal of self reliance in military aviation industry. He lauded the efforts of engineers and technicians of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex who had worked diligently for the last two years to establish the facility. He further stated that Falco UAV will greatly enhance the PAF operational capability. Earlier, Managing Director Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, Air Vice Marshal Aminullah Khan and Managing Director F6 RF, Air Commodore Nadeem Aslam, presented an appraisal of the project activities. The induction of this technology has opened a new dimension in the field of aviation manufacturing at PAC and would be used for other requirements of aviation industry. The roll-out of the first co-produced Falco UAV from Pakistan Aeronautical Complex should occur in the near future.

Here is a video clip about Pakistani drones:

Related Links:

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


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Times of India report on UAV development and deployment with Israel's help:

NEW DELHI: Defence ministry has approved another major induction of spy drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) for armed forces, with
surveillance and intelligence-gathering missions becoming critical on the western and eastern fronts as well as along the huge coastline. Army, for instance, is going in for two more “troops” (6-8 birds each) of advanced Heron UAVs from Israel for
Rs 1,118 crore after getting the nod from the Defence Acquisitions Council headed by defence minister A K Antony.

The 1.13-million strong force has also projected a requirement of seven “troops” of the Rustom drones being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation and Aeronautical Development Establishment in a Rs 1,000 crore project with Israeli help.

As a MALE (medium-altitude, long-endurance) drone, Rustom will be capable of operating for 24 hours, with a 300-km range and a 10,000-metre maximum altitude. Army, of course, is already inducting the indigenous Nishant and Lakshya UAVs.

Similarly, Navy’s case for two more Israeli UAVs at a cost of Rs 386 crore has also been approved, in addition to the ongoing Rs 1,163 crore joint project between Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and DRDO for NRUAVs (naval rotary UAVs).

Navy is already using its UAV fleet of eight Searcher-II and four Herons for maritime surveillance up to 200 nautical miles. “To be operated from warship decks, the NRUAVs will further extend the surveillance out at sea,” said an official.

Moreover, as reported earlier, Army also wants to induct a “large number” of man-portable “mini” and “micro” UAVs for short-range surveillance and NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) detection in the battlefield.

With Army planning to induct these miniature spy drones right down to the battalion-level by 2017, it’s keen they also be capable of carrying explosives for “hard kill” of “light targets”.

Apart from regular infantry units, Para (Special Forces) battalions will also get these “stealthy” drones for covert missions beyond enemy lines and counter-terrorism operations. The armed forces had gone in for a major infusion of Israeli UAVs after the 1999 Kargil conflict and the 2002 Operation Parakram in the wake of Parliament terror attack.

At present, they have over 100 UAVs, primarily Israeli ones like Searcher-II and Heron, as also some “killer drones” designed to detect and destroy enemy radars by functioning like cruise missiles. While the aim in the 11th Plan (2007-2012) period is to also induct armed drones like the American ‘Predators’, which are being successfully used to take on Taliban in Af-Pak region with their ‘Hellfire’ missiles, the eventual objective is to have full-fledged UCAVs (unmanned combat aerial vehicles). The plan, as of now, is to further boost the snooping capabilities of armed forces as well as fully-integrate UAVs with weapon platforms for delivering precision-guided munitions.

SA said...

What is the name of UAV in picture?

Is Pakistan developing armed UAV?

Riaz Haq said...

I believe it's Falco. There are plans underway to develop an armed drone in Pakistan.

SA said...

Sir I beg to differ

Certainly this is not a picture of Falco Uav

Check the video @ 54s, 1:29 US personal are wearing same uniform as Dawn picture ( One of which is also wearing darker color trousers and others are wearing the light color trousers just like picture).Even the color on the tail fins is same as in video.

Israel's Heron UAV makes surprise re-appearance in US colors (Video)

Dawn have made a clear mistake as you can see in of video of the same UAV

This is picture of Israeli Heron 2/Heron TP/Eitan High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) UAV. The MALE UAV, which is based on the original Heron design, has a wingspan of just under 26m, length of 14m, and the aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 4650kg with a typical mission payload of 1000kg. The UAV is powered by a 1,200hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop engine that powers a four-blade propeller. The long wingspan and the extra power give the UAV much better endurance, range and altitude than Heron 1.According to officials the Heron TP has an operational altitude of 45,000ft and is capable of missions of more than 36 hours duration.

Heron 2/Heron TP/Eitan
Data Links

•Liine of Sight
•Satellite communication (SATCOM)


•Endurance: 36 hr
•Range: Beyond Line os Sight (BLOS
•Altitude: 45,000 ft

Technical Data

•Max take-off weight: 4,650 kg
•Typical mission payload: 1,000 kg
•Overall length 14 m
•Wingspan 26 m
•Engine: 1,200 Hp Turbo Prop

India have ordered around 50 Heron/Heron-2 out of which around 30+ are already delivered and 4 of these are used by IN(INAS 342 Squadron ) for maritime operations and plans to introduce another 8 Heron UAV for MPA operations. IN is procuring more Israeli Heron UAVs with three ground control stations and two ship control stations for Rs.3.5 billion after successfully deploying eight Searcher-II and four Heron UAVs. Heron-1 UAV is capable of flying for up to 45 hours at a time at altitudes exceeding 30,000 feet. It has a maximum range of about 3,300 kilometersm and can carry a maximum payload weighing 250 kg/ 550 lbs.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a new poll published by on the unpopularity of US drone attacks in FATA:

LThe CIA can kill militants all day long. If the drone war in Pakistan drives the local people into al Qaeda’s arms, it’ll be failure. A new poll of the Pakistani tribal areas, released this morning, suggests that could easily wind up happening. Chalk one up for drone skeptics like counterinsurgent emeritus David Kilcullen and ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden.

Only 16 percent of respondents to a new poll sponsored by the drone-watchers at the New America Foundation say that the drone strikes “accurately target militants.” Three times that number say they “largely kill civilians.”

CIA director Leon Panetta, by contrast, has staunchly defended the drone program as meticulously targeting terrorists. In a war that depends heavily on perceptions, it’s a big discrepancy.

There’s more bad news for Panetta and his boss in the White House. A plurality of respondents in the tribal areas say that the U.S. is primarily responsible for violence in the region. Nearly 90 percent want the U.S. to stop pursuing militants in their backyard and nearly 60 percent are fine with suicide bombings directed at the Americans. That comes as NATO accelerates incursions into Pakistan. Just this morning, it announced that a pursuit of insurgents in Afghanistan’s Paktiya Province led to a U.S. helicopter shooting at the militants from Pakistani airspace. Enraged Pakistani officials responded by shutting down a critical NATO supply line into Afghanistan.

Whatever NATO says, very few in the tribal regions are inclined to believe the U.S. is in Afghanistan and occasionally in Pakistan to fight terrorism. They think the U.S. is waging “larger war on Islam or… an effort to secure oil and minerals in the region.”

On the brighter side, wide majorities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas disapprove of al Qaeda (over three-quarters), the Pakistani Taliban (over two-thirds) and the Afghan Taliban (60 percent). There’s also strong support for the Pakistani army: almost 70 percent want the army to directly confront al Qaeda and the Taliban in the region; 79 percent say they wouldn’t mind if the tribal area were run by the army.

Now for the qualifiers. Polling in the conflict-heavy tribal areas is a dicey proposition. A survey last year of the tribal areas published in the Daily Times found that almost two-thirds of respondents wanted the U.S. drone campaign to continue. So either support for the drones has bottomed out or there’s significant methodological discrepancies. The Pakistani firm that actually conducted the new poll of 1000 respondents across 120 FATA villages, the Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme, has polled the area for years.

Read More

Riaz Haq said...

Reports by Reuters news agency suggest that US is offering to sell drones to Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The United States will provide Pakistan with 85 small "Raven" drone aircraft, a U.S. military official told Reuters, a key step to addressing Islamabad's calls for access to U.S. drone technology.

The official, speaking on Thursday on condition of anonymity, declined to disclose the cost of the non-lethal, short-range surveillance aircraft, which are manufactured by the U.S.-based AeroVironment Inc.

A company spokesman said the Raven is used by U.S. allies including Italy, Spain and Norway and is one of the most widely utilized unmanned aircraft in the world.

The disclosure is another sign of growing U.S. military assistance to Pakistan, a crucial if often tense ally in the U.S. fight against al Qaeda and insurgents attacking U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
The Raven, according to the company website, has a wingspan of just 1.4 meters (4.5 feet) and a weight of 1.9 kilos (4.2 pounds). It can deliver real-time color or infrared imagery, giving troops on the ground an edge on the battlefield.

A senior U.S. defense official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Raven drone order is separate from U.S. plans to offer Pakistan much larger, longer-range surveillance drones, a proposition put forward by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a visit to Pakistan in January 2010.

That offer delighted Islamabad at the time but Pakistani officials say those talks have been held up over complaints about the cost proposed by Washington and a slow timeline for delivery.

The defense official suggested those talks were nearing conclusion.

"We're in final discussions about which one they really want. They think they want the Shadow," the senior defense official said.

Gates had originally offered Pakistan 12 Shadow drones, manufactured by AAI Corporation, a unit of Textron Systems.

They are not the weaponized versions being used by the CIA to track and kill al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in Pakistan but are used strictly for surveillance and intelligence gathering.

Riaz Haq said...

The first squadron of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) has been formally inducted into the Pakistan Navy fleet, according to The Express Tribune:

The induction ceremony was held at Pakistan Navy Mehran airbase in Karachi. The indigenously developed drones can be employed in support of Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO) in the coastal areas.

Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Noman Bashir congratulated everyone involved in the UQAB-II programme and expressed satisfaction on the induction of UAVs. He said the induction was a manifestation of the navy’s commitment and resolve towards self-reliance and indigenization.

Earlier, a UAV of the Pakistan Navy had crashed inside the premises of the National Oil Refinery in Korangi.

Officially, Pakistan Navy had stated that the ill-fated UAV was a “small remote-controlled aircraft” on a “routine mission” that crashed when it “hit an eagle” during mid flight between 9:30 and 10 am. Officials said that the aircraft had a wing span of around 10 feet which is typically used for target practice. One spokesperson said that the aircraft was almost ‘toy like’ and nothing serious had occurred.

However, sources within Pakistan Navy and the local drone manufacturing industry told The Express Tribune that the pilotless aircraft was a mid range tactical UAV called the Uqaab, which is typically used for surveillance missions.

The locally-manufactured Uqaab has a wing span of about 20 feet, weighs more than 200kgs and its 550cc engine runs on gasoline.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan to build armed drones, reports China's Xinhua news agency:

Pakistan Air Chief Air Marshal Rao Qamar Sulema said on Monday that the country is manufacturing its own spy aircraft and will soon be able to prepare pilotless plane equipped with missile technology, local media reported.

Talking to reporters at the Shehbaz Airbase in southern Sindh province, he said Pakistan is making unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV drones) at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in the town of Kamra near Islamabad, Geo TV reported.

Asked if the F-16 aircraft that Pakistan recently received from the U.S. can down American drones, Suleman said that the Pakistan Air Force does not want any such situation.

The media people were taken to the Shehbaz Airbase to formally announce that the airbase is now under the complete control of the Pakistan Air Force.

The U.S., which used the airbase for drone attacks in Afghanistan and possibly in Pakistan, was told to vacate the base by Pakistan in the aftermath of the November 26 NATO strike on Pakistani posts, which had killed 24 soldiers.

The Air Chief said that 14 used F-16s were provided to Pakistan by the U.S. free of cost while 18 others have been bought.

The Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on the occasion that the parliament reserves the right to decide on the resumption of NATO supplies.

He said that the final decision on whether NATO supplies will be allowed to pass through Pakistan for forces based in Afghanistan will be made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security.

The Army Chief said that Pakistan and the U.S. are cooperating on defence operations and Pakistani officials are taken into confidence whenever bordering areas are to be attacked.

Talking about the Coalition Support Fund, which was set up by the U.S. Congress after the September 11, 2001, attacks to reimburse allies for costs in supporting the U.S.-led war on militancy, General Kayani said that Pakistan was yet to receive 1. 5 billion U.S. dollars from the U.S.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is among nations working on military robots, says expert Peter Singer in an NPR interview. Here's an excerpt:

FLATOW: You're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. We're talking about technology in the world of drones with my guests Peter Singer, Missy Cummings and Chris Anderson. Our number, 1-800-989-8255. Dr. Cummings, are drones more or less flying robots, you give them a mission, you push in the coordinates, the waypoints, things like that, and they take off and do their thing?

Or do they still - are they still controlled remotely with a joystick on the ground?

CUMMINGS: Well, there's a mix of those technologies in the military today and also in some of the other applications like for border patrol. But the capabilities are coming, and they're already here in some fashion where you don't even have to enter - click on the map to enter GPS coordinates. You can just click on a general area or tell a group of vehicles to set up some kind of search pattern.

So - and in fact that's what we're striving for, to really give more context, aware control to humans so that they don't have to be experts, and in fact that's one of the big things that we're stressing for my program at the Office of Naval Research. We want to put the capability of a ground soldier or a medic in the field who has no piloting experience at all to grab a tablet, something the size of an iPad, and just request help.

And a helicopter comes and give the help to the person who needs it without a pilot in the loop.

FLATOW: Peter Singer, can we assume that we're not the only country developing drones?

SINGER: Oh, we definitely can assume that. Right now, there's at least 45 other nations out there that are building, buying and using military robotics, and they are nations that range from Great Britain in France to Israel, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China, you name it.

I think one of the things that's playing out right now is just like what's happened in other fields of technology. There's a catching-up effect going on. The U.S. military spends the most in the world on this, but there's a lot else going on there.

For example, at a recent Chinese arms trade show, there were 25 different of their drone-made systems on display, from, you know, one that looked like a knock-off of our Predator drone, they call it the Pterodactyl, to a stealthy jet-powered kind, so a lot of activity going on there, a lot of concern about what that might mean in the long term.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan among countries working on military robots

LONG BEACH: Pakistan is among the countries working on the development of military robots as robots will be armies of the future in a case of science fact catching up to fiction, a researcher told an elite TED gathering on Wednesday. “The United States is ahead in military robots, but in technology there is no such thing as a permanent advantage,” Peter Singer, who has authored books on the military said. “You have Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran working on military robots.” Singer warned that while using robots for battle saves lives of military personnel, the move has the potential to exacerbate warfare by having heartless machines do the dirty work. “We are at a point of revolution in war,” Singer said. Singer predicted US military units will be half machine, half human by 2015. afp\02\06\story_6-2-2009_pg1_4

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Washington Post on Pakistan's armed drone development program:

KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan is secretly racing to develop its own armed drones, frustrated with U.S. refusals to provide the aircraft, but is struggling in its initial tests with a lack of precision munitions and advanced targeting technology.

One of Islamabad’s closest allies and Washington’s biggest rivals, China, has offered to help by selling Pakistan armed drones it developed. But industry experts say there is still uncertainty about the capabilities of the Chinese aircraft.
Inaugurating a defense exhibition in the southern city of Karachi last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf indicated Islamabad would look for help from Beijing in response to U.S. intransigence.
Pakistan has also been working to develop armed drones on its own, said Pakistani military officials and civilians involved in the domestic drone industry, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the work.

Pakistan first began weapons tests seven or eight months ago with the Falco, an Italian drone used by the Pakistani air force for surveillance that has been modified to carry rockets, said a civilian with knowledge of the secret program. The military is also conducting similar tests with the country’s newest drone, the Shahpur, he said. An unarmed version of the Shahpur was unveiled for the first time at the Karachi exhibition.

The weapons tests have been limited to a handful of aircraft, and no strikes have been carried out in combat, said the civilian.

Pakistan lacks laser-guided missiles like the Hellfire used on U.S. Predator and Reaper drones and the advanced targeting system that goes with it, so the military has been using unguided rockets that are much less accurate.

While Hellfire missiles are said to have pinpoint accuracy, the rockets used by Pakistan have a margin of error of about 30 meters (100 feet) at best, and an unexpected gust of wind could take them 300 meters (1,000 feet) from their intended target, said the civilian. Even if Pakistan possessed Hellfires and the guidance system to use them, the missile’s weight and drag would be a challenge for the small drones produced by the country.

Pakistan’s largest drone, the Shahpur, has a wingspan of about seven meters (22 feet) and can carry 50 kilograms (110 pounds). The U.S. Predator, which can be equipped with two Hellfire missiles, has a wingspan more than twice that and a payload capacity over four times as great.

Pakistani drones also have much more limited range than those produced in the U.S. because they are operated based on “line of sight” using radio waves, rather than military satellites. The Shahpur has a maximum range of 250 kilometers (150 miles), while the Predator can fly over five times that distance.


The market for drones has exploded in Pakistan and other countries around the world in recent years, as shown by the array of aircraft on display at the defense exhibition in Karachi. Hoping to tap into a worldwide market worth billions of dollars a year, public and private companies wheeled out over a dozen drones that ranged in size from hand-held models meant to be carried in a backpack to larger aircraft like the Shahpur.

All the Pakistani drones on display were advertised as unarmed and meant for surveillance only. One private company, Integrated Dynamics, even promotes its aircraft under the slogan “Drones for Peace.” But several models developed by the Chinese government were marketed as capable of carrying precision missiles and bombs....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BBC on how US drones are operated remotely with satellite links:

Two of the medium-sized drones currently in use in Afghanistan and Pakistan are the MQ-1B Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper.

These strange-looking planes carry a wealth of sensors in their bulbous noses: colour and black-and-white TV cameras, image intensifiers, radar, infra-red imaging for low-light conditions and lasers for targeting. They can also be armed with laser-guided missiles.

Each multi-million dollar Predator or Reaper system comprises four aircraft, a ground control station and a satellite link.

Although drones are unmanned, they are not unpiloted - trained crew at base steer the craft, analyse the images which the cameras send back and act on what they see.
How drones work

The base may be local to the combat zone or thousands of miles away - many of the drone missions in Afghanistan are controlled from Creech air force base in Nevada, USA - although take-off and landing are always handled locally.

The MQ-1B Predator (formerly called the RQ-1 Predator) was originally designed as an aircraft for intelligence-gathering, surveillance, identifying targets and reconnaissance.

However, since 2002 it has been equipped with two Hellfire II missiles, meaning it can strike at a range of up to 8km (five miles).

By contrast, the newer MQ-9 Reaper was conceived as a "hunter-killer" system.

It can carry four Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs such as Paveway II and GBU-12.

Its cruise speed is 370kph (230mph), much faster than the 217kph (135mph) of the Predator which is more vulnerable to being shot down at low altitudes - although the drones would usually be flown above the range of most of the weapons available to the Taliban.
Future craft

The US Army revealed in December that it was also developing new helicopter-style drones with 1.8 gigapixel colour cameras, which promised "an unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a TOI report of Pakistan's deployment of Jasoos UAV along Indian border:

JAISALMER: Pakistan's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ( UAV) called 'Jasoos' have been spying on security arrangements and Army activities going on in the Indian side from the international border of Pakistan adjoining Rajasthan. In the recent past, activities of these UAVs have increased.

These UAVs can be spotted at night as sparkling red lights and have become a subject of excitement and discussion among the security forces. They are active even during day time and can be recognized by the trail of smoke they leave behind. These spy planes are active across the border opposite Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Ganganagar in Rajasthan.

Reliable sources confirming this said that Pakistan is taking help of UAVs to keep an eye on the Indian area and their activities have intensified in the past few days.

Sources said Pak had developed UAVs a few years ago with the help of America and Italy and are using them to spy on the Indian area.

Sources said these spy planes are active at a height of 1500m-2000m just 500-700 yards from the international border.

These UAVs are fitted with ultramodern powerful cameras that can capture photographs of the Indian area spanning many kilometers. They are operated from a distance of 25-30kms. The computer operators are connected to the UAVs and they receive the photographs sent by these drones, the sources said.

Though BSF is keeping a watch over the activities of UAVs, but it is not possible to take any action since they are flying within the Pakistani border. But senior officers have been informed about the UAVs, sources added.

When contacted Col SD Goswami, defence spokesperson, said, "Our air defence units are monitoring such activities along the border. In case there is an air space violation, suitable action will be taken. All such violations are analysed and taken up with the country concerned through laid down channels as per established procedures."

He added that as per the international air space rules and bilateral agreements with neighbouring sovereign countries, such flying activities are permitted 10 km away from the international border, but any closer than the 10 km limit requires prior permission.

What are 'Jasoos'?

Jasoos are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) developed by Pakistani company Satuma. They are controlled via remote and weigh around 20kg. Capable of doing 180 kmph, these UAVs fly at a height of 10,000ft (3480m). Jasoos have a range of 100km, and can fly for 4-5 hours continuously with battery backup. Pak air force in the year 2004 had included UAVs, but was used in 2009 after the testing. Prior to this, Pak had purchased UAVs from Italy in 2003.

Riaz Haq said...

Indigenous drone squadrons inducted in Pakistan Army and Air Force, reports Express Tribune:

The armed forces announced on Monday that they had inducted the very first fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the Army and the Air Force.
According to a release from the Inter-services Public Relations (ISPR) announced that the first fleet of strategic drones, ‘Burraq’ and ‘Shahpar’, had been inducted into the forces. Both of the drones were produced indigenously.
The military described the induction as a “landmark and historic event,” where a “very effective force multiplier has been added to the inventory of the armed forces.”
“In the future these UAVs could also be gainfully employed in various socio-economic development projects, as well,” it added, hinting at the possibility of using drones in non-combat settings and for civilian use.
The induction ceremony was attended by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Director General Strategic Plans Division Lieutenant General (Retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, and senior officers from armed forces, scientists and engineers.
General Kayani, while appreciating the work of NESCOM scientists and engineers, highlighted that induction of indigenously developed surveillance capable UAVs in Pakistan Armed Forces is a force multiplier, and will substantially enhance their target acquisition capabilities in real time.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Washington Post report on Pakistan-made drones inducted today:

Pakistan’s military unveiled two domestically produced drones Monday, even as the country is facing growing protests over U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil.

After years of preparation, the Strategically Unmanned Aerial Vehicles were formally announced by Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, chief of Pakistan’s military. The drones, called Burraq and Shahpar, will not be armed and are to be used only for surveillance, military officials said.

The development of the drones, thought to have a range of about 75 miles, represents a milestone for the country’s military and scientists, Pakistani and Western analysts said.

“It is a landmark and a historic event, wherein a very effective force multiplier has been added to the inventory of the armed forces,” the Pakistani military said in a statement.

For years, Pakistan’s military has seen up-close the effectiveness of the U.S. drone campaign, which has included hundreds of strikes within the country’s borders. When the United States began using armed drones after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf asked President George W. Bush to supply drone technology to his country.

The United States declined, setting in motion Pakistan’s homegrown effort to develop the technology.

Pakistan’s military first revealed its drone technology at a trade show last year, but Monday’s formal unveiling coincides with an ongoing farewell tour by Kayani, who is retiring after two terms as army chief.

Brig. Muhammad Saad, a former senior officer in the Pakistani military familiar with the subject, said the country already had less-sophisticated drones for intelligence gathering, with a range of about six miles. The newer models, he said, will prove useful for the “collecting of more operational intelligence” that could help guide helicopter gunships and fighter jets to specific targets.

“This is a great achievement, and the drones can be used instead of surveillance jets and fighter jets that would be costlier” to fly, Saad said.

Saad and other observers said Pakistan is still years away from being able to develop armed drones. Still, Monday’s announcement is likely to unnerve Pakistan’s neighbors, including India and Afghanistan.

Peter W. Singer, a security analyst at the Brookings Institution, said most surveillance drones can be armed, though they will lack the precision of U.S.-developed models.

“Almost any unmanned system can be armed in a crude style, such as dropping a bomb or even turning it into an equivalent of a cruise missile that you fly into the target,” said Singer, adding that the announcement will probably add to growing fears about proliferation of drone technology.

The Pakistani military’s announcement comes as the country is facing growing discontent in some parts over recent U.S. drone strikes, including an attack this month that killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban....

Riaz Haq said...

Drone warfare by #Pakistan as it joins #US, #UK, #Israel as 4th member of exclusive club via @FortuneMagazine

In early September, the government of Pakistan joined an exclusive club. It became the fourth government in the world — following the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel — to use an armed drone to conduct a targeted killing. In doing so, it shattered the assumption that armed drones and the practice of targeted killing will diffuse slowly to the rest of the world.

As a scholar of terrorism and political violence, I see this new deployment of drones as more than a mere tactical move by Pakistan. This incident should make Washington reconsider whether its use of drones for targeted killing will soon usher in unpredictable or even deadly consequences.

Pacifying Waziristan
Unlike the U.S. and U.K., the Pakistani Army used a drone to kill enemies on its own territory. The strikes were part of its long-running campaign to pacify Waziristan.

Since August, the army has been engaged in a bitter campaign to expel militants nested in the Shawal Valley, an important conduit of weapons and personnel into Afghanistan. Despite being supported by manned aircraft, the Pakistani ground forces have been stalled due to fierce resistance from Taliban-linked tribal forces in this mountainous valley. The drone strikes are against “high profile terrorists,” according to ISPR Director-General Asim Saleem Bajwa. They should be seen as an effort to break the will of the militants and clear the region.


The drone used in this strike was a homemade “Burraq” drone designed for surveillance missions, but converted to carry and deploy a missile under remote control. While it lacked much of the range and sophistication of the US-made Predator and Reaper drones, this drone was sufficient to carry out a targeted killing with a reasonable level of accuracy. This example may lead other states in possession of less sophisticated drones, such as India, Russia and Iran, to begin to contemplate whether their technology will be good enough to be converted for a similar strike. If nothing else, it shows that some surveillance drones are more “dual use” for targeted killing than many experts have assumed.

It also illustrates how drone technology is diffusing across the international system in complex ways. Powerful suppliers such as China are playing a role in providing technology and training to countries forbidden from receiving American exports, such as Nigeria and India. A number of experts have suggested that China either directly assisted Pakistan’s development of an armed drone or that Pakistan at least relied heavily on Chinese designs.