With a 600 mile (960 KM) coastline and the responsibility of an Economic Exclusion Zone of some 92,700 sq. Miles (240,000 sq.km) which is set up to increase by another 21,200 sq. Miles (55,000 sq. km), the PNA has a lot to keep its eyes on. Add a neighbor who is an old time foe looking to establish a blue water navy and the PNA’s ASW platforms are kept busy.
Pakistan is dependent on the Indian Ocean for 90% of its trade. Around 300 miles (460 km) west of the key port city of Karachi is the deep sea port of Gwadar, in which china has invested heavily. It is expected to take over the running of the port from Singapore PSA international in the future. The port, which is not far from the Iranian border, is just as much a strategic asset to china, because it will pump oil right through Pakistan into its own terminals, as it is Pakistan.All this needs to be defended, in one of the most volatile areas in the world and much of that is done by the PNA.
Having a fleet of eight P-3-CII Orion’s armed with the AGM-84 Harpoon ASM provides the PNA with a lethal maritime strike capability. The majority of them have been upgraded under the terms of the Pakistan upgrade program (PUP) with a capability to deploy the all-weather AGM-84H SLAM-ER standoff cruise missile. These Orion’s provide Pakistan with a search, surveillance and control capability to support maritime interdiction operations. The PNA should by now be operating ten P-3C Orion’s, but an attack by Taliban insurgents destroyed two.
The sophisticated strike on PNS Mehran during May 22, 2011 by 15 insurgents of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan killed 18 military personnel and wounded 16. It also saw commander naval aviation, Commodore Raja Tahir removed from his post, replaced by Cdre. Khalid Pervez.There has been some speculation that the lost Orion’s will be replaced to bring the fleet back to ten but this has not been confirmed.
Augmenting the P-3C’s is a sole Atlantic, which can call upon the AM39 Exocet and hold up to eight torpedoes inside the bomb bay. It also has an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) role which was highlighted when an Indian Air Force MiG-21 brutally shot down an example , while operating along the Pak-Indian border on August 10, 1999.Until the recent delivery of the latest batch of P-3C’s in February (two) and September (one), the five veteran Fokker F-27-200MPA’s were the backbone of the PNA’s fixed wing ASW fleet.
While three of them operate with a full spec-Ocean Master radar, the remaining pair and a sole F-27-400M were used for humanitarian tasks during the earthquakes and flooding’s in recent years.The Fokker is now becoming a little long-in-the-tooth and the PNA has ordered two low-houred ex-airline ATR 72-500’s as an initial replacement, which will be used to train pilots and then they will be converted to ASW role. A single Hawker 850XP was delivered in October 2010 for the ELINT role.
On the helicopter side, the PNA soldiers on with the faithful Sea King MK45’s, acquired in the early 1970’s. They can be armed with the AM39 Exocet anti-shipping missile, and with work now underway on upgrading the Sea King fleet with the Selex Seaspray 5000 multi-mode surveillance radar, it will ensure that this sterling servant will continue to cause enemy ships a real headache.Having dispensed with any hope of returning three ex-Royal Navy Lynx HAS3 which the PNA received in 1993, because of cost, the PNA opted to acquire six brand new Harbin Z-9EC in 2006.
These Chinese built ASW helicopters work with the Pakistan Navy’s Type 21 Frigates but have been purchased primarily to operate from the new Chinese F-22P Zulfiqar class frigates as they enter service. They can be armed with torpedoes and are likely to be upgraded with a new data link system that will connect all of the Pakistan Navy’s ships and aircraft in the near future. Pakistan Air Force Mirage IIIs provide much needed support for the Navy with a maritime strike capability with the AM39 Exocet when required.
While not part of the PNA, the maritime security agency (MSA) operates three BN-2 Islanders to patrol Pakistan’s burgeoning EEZ, but these are being dwarfed by the job ahead and it is likely they will be augmented by more aircraft or replaced.Three BN-2s Islanders provide the MSAs 93 Squadron with an airborne surveillance capability. The third example joined the fleet in 2004, 11 years after the first pair were delivered.
Pakistan Navy Order of Battle:
27 Squadron……….F-27-200MPA/400 Friendship……….PNS Mehran
28 Squadron……….P-3C-II PUP…………PNS Mehran
29 Squadron……….BR 1150 Atlantic/Hawker 850XP……….PNS Mehran
111 Squadron……….Sea King MK45/45A……….PNS Mehran
222 Squadron………Harbin Z-9EC Haitun………PNS Mehran
333 Squadron……….SA 316/319 Alouette III ……….PNS Mehran
UAV Squadron………Uqab II……….PAF Base Korangi Creek
Maritime Surveillance Agency (MSA);
93 Squadron……….BN-2 Islanders……….PNS Mehran
The P3C-II PUP has added teeth to the PN inventory. They are now equipped with eight, which can detect and destroy submarines if required. A sole example designated for spares inventory is now being upgraded and put back into PNA service.
Having retired the three former Royal Navy Lynx a long time ago, the Pakistan Navy opted to replace them with six Harbin Z-9ECs in the Anti-Surface Warfare role.
Although they are old the PNA’s Sea King MK45’s still provide sterling service and now they are being upgraded with the Selex Seaspray 5000 multi-mode surveillance radar they have found a new lease on life. AFD