Sunday 25 May 2008

Pakistan to get high-tech air defence system

As per President Musharraf's directives Pakistan will acquire a high-tech air defence system next year, but it must come with transfer of technology, an official told The News.

"China and a European country have offered Pakistan High-to-Medium-Altitude Air Defence System, Low-to-Medium-Altitude Air Defence System, Medium-Altitude Air Defence System and Short-Range Air Defence System," said an official, who wanted not to be named. "The two countries have also offered to set up a project in Pakistan for manufacturing short- medium- and high-range air defence systems," he added.

The official said a former PAF chief had sent a summary to President Musharraf for the purchase of a high-altitude air defence system from a European country without transfer of technology, but the president rejected it.

"The summary has been rejected because Pakistan's adversary has MiG-25, MiG-29, SU-27 and SU-30 fighter planes which are capable of flying at an altitude of more than 25km," he added.

India has these aircraft since 2002 whereas the PAF has no effective weapon system to save major cities of the country and defence installations from any attack by such planes, the official said.

"Had the organisations engaged in developing nuclear-capable missiles indigenously been tasked with the development of a system to overcome this shortcoming, the country would have until now achieved the capability of hitting planes at an altitude of 25-29 kilometres," he remarked. "But no attention has been paid towards this aspect of the country's air defence capability."

The official said that Pakistan has radars that can detect aircraft flying at an altitude of 25-29 kilometres but the country still lacks a weapon system to hit such planes. He said the country needs to install at least one battery of an ultra-modern air defence system on four sides of major cities or military installations for security.

According to the official, one battery of such a defence system would comprise 16 vehicles, including two radar carriers, six missile launching vehicles and six support vehicles and thus each battery would cost $40-50 million.

A short-range air defence system can shoot down an enemy plane up to five kilometres and medium-range system is capable of hitting and attacking aircraft up to 25 kilometres while a high-range air defence system can hit an enemy plane at a distance of 90 kilometres, elaborated the official.

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