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DSA 2018: Pakistan Dips Its Toes In ASEAN

May 9, 2018

Via Wikimedia Commons.

A low-key presence at the recent DSA 2018 arms show in Kuala Lumpur were a cluster of organizations from Pakistan. While the Malaysian armed forces have turned to Muslim states like Turkey for some of its procurement needs, Pakistan’s reputation as a supplier for Southeast Asian militaries is a work in progress.

No less than the Defense Exports Promotion Organization (DEPO) showed up at the DSA 2018 venue–the spacious MITEC–to shepherd the different state-owned companies that were exhibiting. These included manufacturers for armored vehicles, apparel, small arms, communications equipment and various types of ordnance. But by the end of the show on April 19 no deals were announced between the Malaysian defense ministry and any Pakistani enterprise.

DEPO exists to simultaneously promote and facilitate exports of weapons, dual use equipment and merchandise made in Pakistan. It might not be well known, but Pakistan does have a flourishing domestic arms industry that enjoys a lot of collaboration between private and state-owned companies. One particular success story is the Super Mushshak turboprop trainer made by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra that’s been delivered to several countries. But at DSA 2018 a handful of other firms had their vast catalogs on display.

Foremost among them was Global Industrial & Defense Solutions (GIDS), a conglomerate responsible for producing both “high tech” weapons and electronic parts and subsystems. GIDS’ specialization extends to unmanned aircraft and its catalog has three twin-boom models–the Shahpar, the Huma and the Uqab. Malaysian army is believed to possess a large stockpile of MANPADS made by GIDS called the Anza Mk II that resembles the Chinese FN-6 and can engage targets as far as 5,000 meters away.

Another exhibitor at the Pakistan pavilion was Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) who are best known for their main battle tanks the Al Khalid and the Al Zarrar. The latter is a comprehensive upgrade of a Chinese Type 59 tank encased in layers of add-on armor, a new engine and a powerful 125mm gun. HIT also assembles a tracked armored personnel carrier called the Talha that’s a decent enough replacement for the ubiquitous M113 made in the US. Unfortunately, Malaysia has built strong ties with Poland and Turkey to equip its army with fighting vehicles.

The National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) has one of the largest portfolios in Pakistan’s state-owned military-industrial sector. But these are confined to phones and radios. Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) was present as well, offering its range of infantry small arms–familiar models licensed from West Germany–and munitions. The POF is allowed to export hand grenades, light and heavy mortars, explosives and propellants, unguided 500 pound bombs, 73mm anti-tank rockets, 106mm recoilless rifle rounds, 122mm artillery rockets, 122mm and 203mm howitzer rounds, tank ammunition in three calibers, and so much more.

Another company that received a fair amount of exposure at DSA 2018 was Badar Expo Solutions (BXSS). They are responsible for organizing the biennial IDEAS arm show in Karachi and are known for their long track record of handling corporate events. IDEAS 2018 is the largest of its kind in Pakistan and is taking place from November 27 until 30 at the Karachi Expo Center. Registration is still open and companies can still register for the conferences taking place throughout the duration of the show.

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