Pakistan is a nation that is geographically surrounded in a troubled region, on one hand there is the unstable Afghanistan / Iran in the west and on the other a long-term adversary India in the east. This meant that Pakistan is always in the immediate need for large scale military expansion to counter the impending threats, however the economic conditions of the country cannot sustain such a move, so Pakistan’s armed forces are forced to make do with little funds there are and put them to efficient use to get the maximum benefit. One of the main uses of Pakistan’s defense budget ($11.4 billion) is procurement of new weapon systems and Pakistan has over the years inducted a diverse set of systems, each of which plays a vital role to balance the power dynamics and counter something India intends to induct. These systems are so carefully selected and strategically procured that despite Pakistan having 7 times lower budget than India, Pakistan armed forces always gains the capabilities needed to effectively create a deterrence.
This article will discuss the important military procurements that Pakistan’s conventional armed forces has inducted over the last 4 years:
Ground system procurements
While air and sea power are becoming more and more important within modern warfare, the role of land forces will always remain critical in fighting engagements with the enemy. Hence Pakistan has invested carefully in land systems such as the main battle tank VT-4, this tank is without a doubt the most advanced and potent tank within the region comes with many important upgrades such as armor, ammunition, sub systems etc. Next important weapon system procured is Pakistan’s own Al-Khalid-1 tank, a heavily upgraded version of the original Al-Khalid which together with VT-4 has built up Pakistan armored corps strength greatly. Next comes a weapon of high strategic importance, the Fatah-1 Guided Multi Launch Rocket System (GMLRS), this is a system locally produced and inducted which holds the capability to launch high precision long range artillery strikes deep behind enemy lines effectively denying the enemy freedom of open movement. Last to be mentioned is probably the most important system to be procured in decades, this is the HQ-9B long range air defense system. This system has countered Indian plans for procurement of a long-range S-400 system long before they could actually induct currently giving Pakistan a strategic edge. Aside from these systems there have been more land-based weapons inducted however only these were mentioned due to larger significance.
Airborne systems procurement
While the land forces discussed earlier have their own importance, Airborne forces are in a class of their own and can dominate in changing the tides of war. Due to this Pakistan has invested a lot of its limited funds within this domain as well and the earliest procurement within time frame of (2018-2022) was the Mil Mi 35M helicopter gun ship. This is an advanced variant of the famous Mil-mi 24 and allows Pakistan to deploy heavy firepower and troop-carrying capacity on the frontlines. Next comes AW-139 advanced utility helicopter which is rated to be the best amongst its class. They are used for transportation, utility and SAR (Search and rescue). Switching attention from helicopters we can start discussing drone procurement, something Pakistan has invested a lot in recently resulting in various different systems. These systems listed in order are Wing loong II, Shahpar 2, Bayraktar TB-2 and Bayraktar Akinci. These systems are all armed drones each with their own characteristics making them a deadly addition to Pakistan firepower. Lessons were learned in Azerbaijan-Armenian war and Ukraine war show casting the importance of drone tech in modern warfare. Lastly comes the most important systems within airborne class inducted by Pakistan, which are J-10C and JF-17 Bravo. The JF-17 Bravo is a dual seater variant of joint Pak-China jet JF-17 series which comes with many upgrades over previous versions and has utility uses for training as well. However, the main super star amongst all is the JF-10C omni role fighter. This advanced fighter comes with all the latest technology and weaponry making it one of the most potent weapon systems with in PAF inventory.
Naval systems procurement
With land and air discussed, finally the attention can come towards naval procurements. These systems importance is in a different category as they are meant for defense within the sea where all maritime tradelines flow. Here no one system can be rated as “Most important” as each system fulfills a unique role, hence without rating importance we can start listing. First comes Tughril class frigates which are the newest and most advanced frigates in Pakistan’s inventory, coming with the latest systems and weaponry this has added greatly to Pakistan navy’s firepower. Next comes Hangor-class submarine (They haven’t been inducted yet but procurement and construction are done), these submarines will be massive force multipliers for Pakistan naval underwater fleet with their advanced systems. Next are Yarmook and Babur class Corvettes, each of which come with their own weapon configurations and systems also making them force multiplier for the surface fleet (Babur is in construction phase). Sea Sultan is another important procurement Pakistan has pursued which increased the navy’s maritime surveillance capabilities, meanwhile Pakistan also received some Sea King helicopters.
All these systems discussed above are assets Pakistan has been able to induct which creates effective deterrence and counters all threats, all the while limited by the low defense spending when compared to its adversaries such as India or Israel. This is thanks to effective utilization of available resources by armed forces and strong relations with foreign defense partners also managed by armed forces. As a result, Pakistan has emerged a militarily strong nation which can hold its own both conventionally and non-conventionally.