Italian defence exports to Pakistan have jumped from US $194.15 million in 2017 to $762 million in 2018, as per an Italian government’s “Report on the Authorized Transactions Carried for Export, Import and Transit Control of Armament Materials,” released last month.
With the increase in exports, Pakistan has become the second largest arms importer from Italy, next only to Qatar which stood at $2.1 billion.
A further increase could be on the cards as the President of the Italian Companies for Aerospace, Defence and Security (AIAD) Guido Crosetto and the CEO of MBDA Italy, Pasquale Di Bartolomeo called on Pakistan Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, in Islamabad on October 17.
Pakistan has been seeking torpedoes and missiles for its ships and submarines and the visit could be seen in that context. According to a report by Quwa this October, Leonardo announced the sale of additional AW139 to Pakistan in April 2018.
The Pakistan Army is also procuring refurbished M109L self-propelled howitzers from the Italian Army. Last December, India’s Economic Times reported that Islamabad bought 245 50mm SP Mike-10 guns from Italy, of which it had received 120.
Although the official document did not disclose military hardware procured by Pakistan, Italy’s order book did state that the country procured 12.7 mm caliber (plus lower and higher caliber) weapons and automatic weapons, ammunition, bombs, torpedoes, rockets, land vehicles, missiles, aircraft, simulation and training equipment, among others in 2018.
Reports in Pakistani media say that next big ticket purchase from Italy could be the M-346 lead-in fighter-trainer. An aircraft that can double up as an advanced jet trainer and a light fighter.
The most recent Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) report stated that the Directorate General of Defence Purchase (DGDP) ordered 10 “low-level radars” for $130 m. This could be a gap-filler radar meant for supplementing – and eventually replacing — the PAF’s Siemens Mobile Pulse Doppler Radars (MPDR). A Leonardo KRONOS LAND purchase could be a possibility, the Quwa report said.
Leonardo has increased exposure to Pakistan ever since it was barred by the Indian MoD after the involvement of its subsidiary, AgustaWestland in the VVIP helicopter bribery scandal. A July 2019 report by the same Indian publication said that the Indian MoD extended suspension of business with Leonardo for another six months. The suspension means the Italian firm has been barred from business dealings with all departments and wings of the Indian MoD.