“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 then said in a statement.
Pakistan’s military first revealed its drone technology at a trade show in 2012, but in November last year the formal unveiling coincided with an ongoing farewell tour by Gen Kayani, who was retiring after two terms as army chief, the Post reported.
Brig Muhammad Saad, a former senior officer in the Pakistani military familiar with the subject, was quoted as saying that 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 ‘collecting 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.”
Experts say Pakistan is still years away from being able to develop armed drones but Washington Post quoted Peter W Singer, a security analyst at the Brookings Institution, saying most surveillance drones can be armed, though they will lack the precision of US-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.
In November of 2012, London’s Guardian newspaper reported that military officials had 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.
A Pakistan Army colonel, who had just finished a tour of the country’s border region, was quoted by the Guardian as saying such small drones were a vital tool. “We have these small drones, but not enough of them and we do not always get them when we have operations,” said the colonel in Nov 2012. “They are excellent for observing their movements and deployments.”
But now it is 2014 and the Pakistan Army has as many of these birds as it needs. This will be the latest and the most effective tool in this fight against terrorism.
Autonomous take-off and landing.
Various types of payloads integrated for reconnaissance and day & night surveillance
Accurate lateral and longitudinal trajectory control
Mission planning, management & control
Built-in data exploitation and dissemination
Full mission debriefing & simulation
Military standard hardware (Environmental Standard 810F)
Geo referencing and geo pointing for terrestrial targets
MISB compliant video format