Warplanes: Pakistani Robots Speak Chinese and Italian


March 11, 2009: Pakistan is using several different types of UAVs along the Afghan and Indian borders. The most effective of these is the Italian Falco UAV, which Pakistan ordered Falco three years ago. The air force completed evaluation of the Falco a little over a year ago, and put at least four of them into service. Falco is a 924 pound aircraft with a 150 pound payload. Ceiling is 5,000 meters, but it usually operates at lower altitudes (2,000 meters). Endurance is up to 12 hours, but typical missions are 6-8 hours. Max speed is 210 kilometers an hour, although it usually cruises at 150. Falco can be up to 200 kilometers from its ground station. The UAV can take off and land on an air strip, or use a catapult for takeoff and parachute for landing.

Pakistan has also been using several Chinese UAVs for the last decade or so. First, they got the ASN-105, a 308 pound aircraft with a payload if 88 pounds and endurance of only two hours. This is a 1980s era design, that has since been replaced by the ASN-206/207. This is a 488 pound aircraft, with a 110 pound payload. The 207 model has a max endurance of eight hours, but more common is an endurance of four hours. Max range from the control van is 150 kilometers away and cruising speed is about 180 kilometers an hour. A UAV unit consists of one control van and 6-10 trucks, each carrying a UAV and its catapult launch equipment. The UAV lands via parachute, so the aircraft get banged up a lot. This UAV can broadcast back live video, and be equipped for electronic warfare.

Pakistan is also developing its own UAVs. Last year it flight tested the Uqaab. This design looks very similar to models offered by a Pakistani firm, Integrated Dynamics, which has been producing smaller (under 500 pounds) UAVs for the government and commercial market since 1997. The Uqaab also appears similar to the U.S. Army RQ-7B Shadow 200.

Pakistan requested Predators from the United States, but this was turned down because it was feared that the Chinese would be allowed to dissect the American UAV and acquire too many production secrets. Pakistan and China have been chummy for decades. No secrets between friends and all that.  But European nations, like Italy and Germany,  have been willing to sell Pakistan UAVs.




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