Islamabad: Pakistan opened its largest defense expo ever on Tuesday, showcasing advanced fighter jets, drones, and the latest weapon systems to boost exports and strengthen defense collaboration.
The four-day International Defense Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS 2022) opened at Karachi Expo Centre, bringing together 300 leading national and international defense manufacturers and over 300 foreign delegates from 57 countries.
The biennial event is taking place after a gap of four years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
IDEAS 2022 will feature advanced military hardware and software with a focus on technologies such as artificial intelligence. Defense manufacturers from Turkey, China, US, UK, European Union, Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa are showcasing their products at the 11th edition of the expo, said Maj. Gen. Mohammad Arif Malik, the head of the country’s Defense Export Promotion Organization (DEPO).
Leading regional defense platform
“IDEAS is Pakistan’s leading event that brings together the global defense industry. The innovation and excellence exhibited here would pave the way for international defense collaboration among friends and partners,” Gen Arif Malik said at the opening ceremony. He also emphasized the vital role of the private sector in the development of the defense industry.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who inaugurated IDEAS 2022, said that “IDEAS is an iconic platform for showcasing the latest defense technologies, and is a regional gateway for international suppliers and manufacturers to explore new avenues of defense cooperation.” He noted that Pakistan’s defense industry has achieved a sufficient level of quality, reliability and competency in the international market.
“Pakistan is now exporting high-level defense products to more than 60 countries”, however, the volume of exports did not reflect the country’s actual potential due to the limited involvement of the private sector and little attention to research and development.
Pakistan’s services chiefs, federal minister for defense production Israr Tareen, Sindh chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and other senior civilian and military officials attended the inaugural ceremony.
Foreign defense manufacturers
Pakistan’s longtime allies China and Turkey have the largest representation at the expo. Chinese state-run defense conglomerate China North Industries Group Corporation Limited (NORINCO) displayed missiles and weapon systems including the Red Arrow 9A anti-tank guided missile.
Top Turkish defense companies, including Roketsan, state-run STM and ASFAT, showcased their products ranging from military hardware to modern drones to tactical mini-UAV systems. Turkish Aerospace exhibited the models of the T129 ATAK helicopter, Gokbey multirole helicopter, Gokturk-2 satellite observation, as well as Anka unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and Aksungur medium-altitude long-range endurance (MALE) UAV. “We aim to increase joint cooperation [with Pakistan] on high technologies that will guide the future of the aerospace industry,” said Turkish Aerospace President and CEO Prof Temel Kotil.
Pakistani military machines on display
Some of Pakistan’s advanced military hardware exhibited at the expo included unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), air defense systems, missile systems, tanks and armored personnel carriers (APC).
Pakistan’s Shahpar-II medium-altitude long-endurance UAV system, advanced Harbah anti-ship cruise missile by state-owned Global Industrial and Defense Solutions (GIDS) and electronic warfare system by National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation were on display. The locally developed Al-Khalid tanks and modern assault rifles manufactured by Pakistan Ordinance Factories (POF) were also exhibited. Spectators also got a close look at the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) JF-17 Thunder fighter jets. PAF jets are expected to perform aerial maneuvers and demonstrate the air force’s capabilities on the concluding day of the expo.