January 30, 2009, Islamabad -- The Pakistan Navy will increase its aerial surveillance capabilities with the acquisition of airborne early warning and UAV systems. This was announced by the Navy's chief of staff, Adm. Noman Bashir, during a Jan. 29 visit to the service's aviation base, PNS Mehran, in Karachi.
The admiral was attending a ceremony to induct Fokker F-27 Friendship maritime surveillance aircraft into the Navy's air arm, and the commissioning of a T-56 engine test bench facility. The former were acquired from Pakistan's national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines, on retirement of the type from its service. The latter will allow for the in-house overhaul and maintenance of the T-56 engines on the Navy's growing fleet of Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
Though the admiral made no further comment on the UAV issue, the Navy has been evaluating the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter UAV for some time.
When asked if Bashir's latest comments were linked to the S-100, a Navy spokesman, Capt. Asif Majeed Butt, said, "There are about 14 to 15 UAVs under scrutiny, but none have been finalized." He did, however, say that the S-100 is "better" than some of the other UAVs under consideration.
The AEW system in question is the P-3B Orion fitted with the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft's airborne early warning and control equipment. At IDEAS2008, an international defense trade show that took place in November in Karachi, a Lockheed official, Costas Papadopoulos, said that a number of Orions had been selected to be fitted with the Hawkeye AEW gear. But he did not comment on when delivery to the Navy is expected.
Bashir said the Navy looks forward to the arrival of Z-9EC anti-submarine warfare helicopters, which will be embarked upon the service's new F-22P Sword-class light frigates, the first of which is expected in Pakistan later this year. Both the helicopters and ships are being built in China.
He also said a deal for the Navy's next-generation submarine, the Type 214 built by Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard, would be "concluded soon." The potential terms of the deal remain undisclosed. (defensenews.com)