Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pakistani Drones in America

By Noah Shachtman

America's killer drones are getting all the attention, in the fight against Pakistani militants. But Pakistan's military has plenty of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, too. And they're being used to spy on suspected insurgents, and listen in on their phone calls.

Since 2002, Pakistan has dramatically expanded its robotic fleet in the sky, Defense News reports. The Pakistani Air Force has two UAV squadrons -- and is looking to build up to six.

"Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters use not just mobile and satellite phones for communication, but also sophisticated military radios," Defense News notes. So companies like East West Infiniti are building SIGINT [signals intelligence] for small drones and robotic blimps, to capture those conversations. Designed for militaries unable to afford high-end, dedicated SIGINT platforms, East West's Whisper Watch system can detect and monitor electronic emissions up to 250 kilometers away and then retransmit to a ground station located out of harms way.

Karachi-based Integrated Dynamics actually exports its Border Eagle surveillance drone to the United States for border patrol duties. The company also makes drones the turbojet-powered Tornado decoy, which can fly up to 200 kilometers, and emit false radar signals to "confuse enemy air defenses into thinking they are attacking aircraft," Defense News says.

Note: Pakistani UAV gear were on display in November, at IDEAS, Pakistan's big military trade show.

Related Links:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Pakistan Manufacturing Humvees?

Can India Do a Lebanon?

India, Pakistan Oppose Cluster Bomb Ban


Anonymous said...

This is not a phony web site to scare Mr. Jadev and Associates ... Riaz??

We want peace!!!

BiLo said...

The drone attacks are indeed a menace and the ultimate consequence isfar more troubling that it could be imagined.
I have tried to depict the scenario in my blog:

Anonymous said...

^^ I have heard this story a long time ago of this Pak-based mini-UAV company. Its totally cool that US Border Patrols are using Pak-made drones.I hope we Indians can bridge the gap with help from master of UAVs..the Israelis ;-).Indian Special Forces are reportedly in process of inducting these kinda of mini-UAVs for tactical reconnaissance. Hopefully, we can see all these gizmos in action in short while in much awaited Ind-Pak military match across the border.

Anonymous said...

And Jaydev is a peace loving terrorist, secular extremist, blood sucking compatriot, liberal bigot from Kerala...Uhhhh..Phew.

Anonymous said...

checkout movie "Eagle Eye (2008)"..The opening scene in the movie is US special forces using these mini-uavs to identify taliban commander in a convoy which when confirmed, they call in the (abnormally fast) Reaper(Predator-B) attack drones to assassinate him. I guess UAVs are the future then.

Anonymous said...

Jaydev - for you, even babpu (Gandhi) was and Arundhati Roy is a cross border terrorist. You don't need drones for the manner in which you killed police officer Kirkerey or for that matter anyone who differs in his point of view with you. No wonder, the "big bald bigot" a.k.a Riaz wrote that 21st century challenges piece. The bad news for you is that there are millions back there on each side who will provide you with a crushing defeat.

Riaz Haq said...

Thx for the suggestion.
I guess counter-insurgency and anti-terror wars will depend more and more on tactics involving reliable signal intelligence and armed drones. But most nations, incl US and Israel, are not going to succeed by military means alone. A more comprehensive strategy is needed to defeat insurgents and terrorists.

Riaz Haq said...

A website called Democracy Arsenal asks the following about this post:

Fine, Pakistan is, in some sense, technologically advanced. None of Tech Lahore's indicators, though, discuss what I would call underlying structural factors. In other words, these are primarily dependent rather than independent variables, meaning that it is unlikely that the feedback loops are going to run from technology to politics or culture, whereas politics will obviously be an engine of reform in non-political sectors.

Here's what I think:

Without going into the specific accomplishments in Pakistan during Musharraf-Aziz regime, I believe it can be safely said that the communications revolution (accompanied by dramatic growth in vociferous electronic and new media) as well as a significant enlargement of the middle class in Pakistan helped sow the seeds of the end of arbitrary actions by President Musharraf. In other words, Musharraf pulled a Gorbachev ( a la perestroika that unleashed uncontrolled energies) by enabling powerful resistance to arbitrary rule. Some of these changes are durable and I hope will make our rulers more accountable. There will still be abuse of power but the sunlight will shine brightly on it to the detriment of the abusers. Eventually there will be real participatory democracy with appropriate checks and balance imposed by a much larger and more powerful and aware middle class essential for true democratic governance in Pakistan.

Unknown said...

Drones and UAVs now have a very lethal role to play. They are much advanced and have a greater capability of carrying payloads. So, their usage would increase by time, my friend.

For a detailed study about UAVs, their employment, and future prospects, visit >Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - A DETAILED STUDY

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Navy Pilotless Drone Aircraft Crashes Near Karachi, according to Bernama:

KARACHI, July 19 (Bernama) -- A Pakistani navy pilotless drone crashed near an oil refinery after hitting a bird in the country's largest city of Karachi on Tuesday,the navy said.

A spokesman said that there were no casualties and that the drone had been on a surveillance flight when a bird accidentally flew into the aircraft and it came down in the Karachi suburbs.

The aircraft burst into flames after hitting the ground but the flames were extinguished after a short while, reported China's Xinhua news agency on Tuesday.

It was the third aircraft crash in Karachi in eight months.

Pakistan is developing its own drone technology for surveillance and reconnaissance missions because the United States, which is running a bombing campaign with drones in the country's northwest, refuses to give Pakistan the technology.

Two companies in Islamabad, Satuma and East West Infiniti, make drones for the Pakistani military. It is not known if the crashed drone belonged to either company.

China's Xinhua news agency, citing local press reports, that the aircraft crashed in the highly sensitive area where three major oil storages are located.

Rescue teams were sent to the area to check if anyone was hurt on the ground, police said, adding that the fire fighters rescue team were called to control the blaze after some time, police said.

The police sources earlier said they were investigating if it was an act of terrorism as it crashed in the sensitive no-fly zone due to big oil storages.

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...

Here's an excerpt of a PRI report on Pakistani drones:

Reports of Pakistan working on producing its own drones began to surface in 2009. The most highly touted model is called the “Burraq”, named for a mythical winged creature that is said to have carried the Prophet Muhammed.

Masood said the military is working hard on it, but there’s still no guarantee it will be flying anytime soon.

“I think they are on a high priority. There is no doubt about it, they are on a high priority. But even if a weapons system is on a high priority because of the complexity and the advanced nature of its technology it may take some time before it is mastered and its full utilization is made.”

In fact, Pakistan already has a long history of designing and producing drones, many of them created by a man named Raja Sabri Khan.

His near obsession with unmanned aircraft started at a young age. Khan found himself compelled to do whatever it took to fund his research.

“I augmented my nonexistent earnings by teaching physics and doing fashion photography so these helped Pakistan’s first drones to be created,” Khan said.

His clear preference for model aircraft over fashion models carried Khan to the top of his industry. In fact, he said he’s sold his unarmed drones to a company he does not want to name in the United States.

Khan said the drones flying in American airspace are being used for law enforcement, security and even search and rescue.

But he is adamantly opposed to arming drones because of the risk that innocent people will be harmed.

Still, Khan expects Pakistan’s political and military leaders will push ahead, seeing a missile firing drone as nothing more than the latest airborne weapon of war.

“I feel bombing civilians is unfair,” he said. “It’s something that cannot be condoned. But at the same time, a drone is nothing more than an aircraft without a pilot [on board]. And if you use it to fight a war, I think political considerations far outweigh the idealistic side of the issue.”

There is another potential side effect of Pakistan’s determination to manufacture its own drone fleet. Talat Masood said China has become a key partner in the development of the Burraq drone.

Masood said the US, which has cooperated with the Pakistani military on joint projects and training for years, should be paying attention.

“So you can see how lasting those bonds are. And any country which has a defense relationship which is strong and binding, then the relationship also becomes very lasting,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on Pakistan's efforts to develop combat drones:

Islamabad, which publicly condemns attacks by US drones on militants in tribal areas by the Afghan border, has built its own

Pakistan is on the cusp of joining an elite group of countries capable of manufacturing unmanned aircraft capable of killing as well as spying, a senior defence official has claims.
Publicly, Islamabad, which officially objects to lethal drone strikes carried out by the CIA along its border with Afghanistan, says it is only developing remote-controlled aircraft for surveillance purposes.
But last week, during a major arms fair held in Karachi, military officials briefed some of Pakistan's closest allies about efforts by the army to develop its own combat unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
"The foreign delegates were quite excited by what Pakistan has achieved," said the official, who was closely involved with organising the four-day International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (Ideas). "They were briefed about a UAV that can be armed and has the capability to carry a weapon payload."
The official said Pakistan wanted to demonstrate to friendly countries, principally Turkey and the Gulf, that it can be self-sufficient in a technology that is revolutionising warfare and which is currently dominated by a handful of countries that do not readily share the capability.
"It does not have the efficiency and performance as good as Predator," he said, referring to the US combat drone widely used to attack militant targets. "But it does exist."
He gave no details about the capabilities of the aircraft, or even its name.
Huw Williams, an expert on unmanned systems at Jane's Defence Weekly, expressed doubts that Pakistan could have succeeded in progressing very far from the "pretty basic" small reconnaissance drones, which the country publicly exhibited at the weapons show, including the Shahpar and Uqab aircraft developed by the state-owned consortium Global Industrial and Defence Solutions.
"The smaller systems are not greatly beyond that of a model aircraft," he said. "But the larger, long-endurance drones are a step up in technology across the board."
Only the US and Israel are currently believed to have drones that can fire missiles. China and Turkey are also working on large-scale combat drones.
Both countries exhibited models of drones at the sprawling Karachi conference centre, which included Pakistani companies marketing everything from guns that shoot around corners to inflatable tanks intended to fox surveillance aircraft.
The big claims about Pakistan's developing drone capacity highlights the enormous interest in the technology from armies around the world.
"Everyone has been asking us whether our drones can carry weapons," said Raja Sabri Khan, chief executive of Integrated Dynamics, a company that showed off a wide range of small and mid-size reconnaissance drones. "But that's a business for the big boys only."
Khan has been deliberately refocusing his company's efforts on smaller drones, many of which are launched by hand, which are mostly intended for civilian use.
A Pakistani army colonel attending the exhibition, after recently finishing a tour fighting against militants in the country's border region, said such small drones were a vital tool.
Organisers conceded that this year had not been a major commercial success but were pleased with the turnout after the last event in 2010 had to be cancelled.
Several exhibitors said Pakistani companies – many of which are directly owned by the country's military – offered a cheaper alternative to developing countries looking to buy everything from tanks to computer simulators used to train pilots.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's DefenseNews on Pakistani drones Burraq and Shahpar:

Shahpar is a tactical canard pusher UAV that was developed by the Advance Engineering and Research Organisation, which is part of the state-owned Global Industrial & Defence Solutions (GIDS) conglomerate.

It was revealed to the public for the first time during IDEAS2012, Pakistan’s biannual defense exhibition, in November last year.

It was claimed to be an autonomous UAV with an endurance of seven hours and which could relay data in real time out to a range of 250 kilometers.

Observers have said the Burraq appears to be a Pakistani variant or development of the Chinese Rainbow CH-3 UCAV, but little else is known beyond speculation based on the CH-3’s specifications.

Former Pakistan Air Force pilot Kaiser Tufail said additional information will be difficult to obtain for now because sources will be “wary about leaking what is considered confidential stuff.”

Reports that Pakistan was developing an armed UAV named Burraq date back to 2009. Analyst Usman Shabbir of the Pakistan Military Consortium think tank said he first became aware of the existence of the Burraq some years ago when it was still in the design stages with NESCOM.

The two may be related, but he believes Burraq is armed and Shahpar unarmed.

“Shahpar can carry about a 50-kilogram payload and has around eight hours endurance. Burraq, based on Chinese CH-3 specs, would carry around a 100-kilogram payload and 12 hours endurance,” he said.

The given payload of the CH-3 is a pair of AR-1 missiles, or a pair of FT-5 small diameter bombs.

The ability of Pakistan to field an armed UAV has great benefits when faced with time-sensitive targets, he said.

“It is important in a sense that it greatly cuts the gap from detection to shoot,” he said.

Adding, “Earlier, once you detected something and wanted it taken out you had to pass on the imagery to higher ups, who had to approve and allocate resources like aircraft and by the time the aircraft got there the bad guys were long gone. Now detect, make decision, shoot and go home — all in same loop.”

He does not believe there is any real significance in the systems being named for use with both the Army and the Air Force, however, as “both have been operating their own UAV squadrons for a while now.”

“The Army has been using German EMT Luna X-2000 and the British [Meggitt] Banshee UAVs, while PAF as we know has a lot of faith in the Italian [Selex] Falco,” he added.

The Luna was also ordered by the Pakistan Navy in June 2012.