China’s growing weapons exports to Pakistan were visible at the 10th IDEAS in Karachi
Prasun K. Sengupta
Pakistan’s 10th International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS), which was held from November 27-30 last year at the Karachi Expo centre and saw more than 522 foreign and national companies and 262 delegations from 50 countries including China, Russia, USA, the UK, France, Germany, Turkey, Poland, South Korea and host Pakistan, revealed not only China’s ever-deepening military-industrial linkages with Pakistan, but also illustrated China’s increasing exports of military hardware in India’s immediate neighbourhood.
Land Forces Developments
Given Pakistan’s elongated geography, it is possible for the Pakistan Army (PA) to use its interior lines of communications for deploying its war-fighting assets to their forward concentration areas within 72 hours. To this end, the PA has since 2007 built a sprawling new central ammunition storage depot to the South of its Mangla Cantonment, and has also expanded the existing depot at Kharian in support of the PA’s Line of Control-specific/ Chicken’s Neck-specific battle formations, which comprise the Mangla-based I Corps (that in turn comprises the Gujranwala-based 6 Armoured Division, Kharian-based 17 Infantry Division, the 37 Mechanised Infantry Division also in Kharian and the 8 Independent Armoured Brigade); and the Rawalpindi-based X Corps that includes the Gilgit-based Force Command Gilgit-Baltistan, Murree-based 12 Infantry Division, Mangla-based 19 Infantry Division, the Jhelum-based 23 Infantry Division, and the Rawalpindi-based 111 Independent Infantry Brigade.
Formations allocated for operations along the ‘Shakargarh Bulge’ are the Gujranwala-based XXX Corps (comprising the Sialkot-based 8 Infantry Division and 15 Infantry Division); the Lahore-based IV Corps with its 10 and 11 Infantry Divisions, two semi-mechanised Independent Infantry Brigades (including the 212 Bde) and one Independent Armoured Brigade; and the Multan-based II Corps made up of the Multan-based 1 Armoured Division, and the Okara-based 14 Infantry Division, 40 Infantry Division and an Independent Armoured Brigade.
For improving the mobility and firepower of these above-mentioned formations, Pakistan’s state-owned Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) has developed the 16-tonne Viper tracked infantry combat vehicle (ICV) in cooperation with a few East European weapons manufacturers. The Viper, unveiled at the expo, is derived from a lengthened chassis derived from the HIT licence-built M-113P tracked armoured personnel carrier (APC) and features six road wheels on each side, compared to the M-113P’s five, and a front-mounted powerpack.
In addition, appliqué armour tiles are installed for ensuring compliance with NATO’s Level IV STANAG 4569 protection-standard (all-round protection against 14.5mm armour-piercing rounds fired from 200 metres]. The Viper accommodates 13 soldiers (including a crew of three) in anti-blast seats without neck protection. However, the hull lacks a spall-liner or any additional anti-fragmentation protection for the crew and mounted infantry. The Viper’s new-design turret hosts a modified Turra-30 remotely controlled weapon station (RCWS) armed with a Slovak-made 30mm Shipunov 2A42 automatic cannon, Kalashnikov PKT 7.62mm medium machine gun, two ready-to-use 9M113 Konkurs anti-armour guided-missiles (which is expected to be replaced later by either NORINCO-supplied Red Arrow 11 or Red Arrow-9A missiles), and smoke dischargers. The RCWS’ sensor suite comprises a daylight TV camera, infra-red sight, and laser rangefinder. The commander’s station can be fitted with a panoramic day/night sight.
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