The United States Air Force has been using Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) in the war against terror for quite a while to target Taliban and insurgents in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In light of efficiency and productivity of these UAVs, Pakistan repeatedly requested USA to equip Pak army with drone technology, which were turned down. This was when Pakistan began its own UAV development program. The military funded different drones built by both the private and public sector.
The result is that Pakistan has made tremendous strides in UAV development. Mukhbir, Uqaab, Jasoos are just a few of the UAVs developed.
Pakistan in fact entered into a deal with the Italian firm, Selex-Galileo, for the licensed local production of UAV aircraft at the Kamra Aeronautical facilities. Falco UAV was built in these facilities and now the Air Force is looking to provide it firepower in the form of miniature missiles.
The Pakistan Navy also acquired rotorcraft drones from foreign sources while the Pakistan Army has been working to develop partnerships with China and has provided incentives to local manufacturers to continue developing advanced platforms within the country.
However these were all reconnaissance drones. There was awareness about the need for an armed drone capable of wiping out targets without the need for fighter jets and now it seems that the Burraq, under development for four years and billed as a long range and high endurance armed UAV aircraft, may be ready for deployment.
First news of Pakistan starting work on Predator-like drones surfaced in 2009, when it was revealed that NESCOM was flight testing a new design aircraft which was to be equipped with laser designator and laser guided missiles. Now it seems that all the pieces of the Pakistani drone development program puzzle are coming together. Sources suggest that it will be in flight by early 2012.
The Pakistani UAV program is just one indicator of the potential of this country. A domestic UAV program is beneficial in numerous ways. Firstly, it will aid the local manufacturing industry and all the money that would have flowed out of the country stays here.
If technology is purchased, it has to be used as it is provided, there is no room for customization and there’s always the knowledge that the seller would be capable of neutralizing the technology in question if they wanted to since we don’t know if they included fail safes in the designs if the technology were to be used against them.
With a domestic program, we can realize the full potential. This also provides a boost to different tech firms operating in Pakistan since someone has to supply all the things like materials to software to build the UAV. So not only is the Burraq is going to help bolster our defenses, it will also provide economic benefits.
The Burraq UAV is an example of how we can achieve whatever we set our minds to. In a world where foreign powers are looking to gain the upper hand when ever possible, such technological programs will work to keep them at bay while keeping our people safe. ProPakistani prays that we will continue to explore new research avenues and develop technology to protect the sovereignty of the country.