Pakistan Navy (PN) inducted an ATR aircraft-based maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) and LUNA NG unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for coastal reconnaissance on January 4.
The ATR turboprop aircraft was converted into MPA role by Germany-based Rheinland Air Service (RAS) as per a contract awarded in December 2018.
Also known as the RAS-72 Sea Eagle, the ATR MPA is equipped with the Leonardo Seaspray 7300E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, FLIR Systems’ Star SAFIRE III electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) turret, and Elettronica’s electronic support measures (ESM) suite.
The system command and control system is the AeroMission mission management suite developed by another German firm, Aerodata AG’s. AeroMission offers the RAS-72 crew with situational awareness via multiple sensors.
The ATR MPA is also capable of anti-submarine warfare (ASW), it can deploy lightweight ASW torpedoes. It is not yet known if the PN’s aircraft is equipped with torpedoes.
A second ATR aircraft was also inducted to operate in a cargo/para-drop role for the PN’s Special Forces’ operations.
The LUNA NG drone is made by EMT Penzberg. Its payload options include synthetic aperture radar (SAR), signals intelligence (SIGINT), ESM, and EO/IR. It can fly for over 12 hours. The PN said it will use the LUNA NG to monitor its creeks and coastal areas.
In addition, The PN has plans to acquire unmanned combat Aerial vehicles (UCAV). The Pakistani government is in talks with Turkish Aerospace to acquire the Anka-S UCAV.
The Pakistani Armed Forces have been steadily acquiring military assets from diverse sources and notably away from the United States. Recent procurements have been from China, Turkey and Sweden.