Since 2014 the ground forces of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan have been searching for a potential supplier of modern anti-tank guided missile (hereinafter – ATGM) systems. Pakistani specialists singled out four bidders while analyzing, including the developments of Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish specialists.
In recent years, measures have been taken to determine whether the offered complexes match their stated technical characteristics. Representatives of the Land Forces of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (hereinafter – IRP) with each of the developers carried out various tests of the complexes, both on the territory of the developing countries and at their own test site in Bahawalpur (Pakistan).
It should be noted that during the XVI International Specialized Exhibition “Weapons and Security – 2019” (Kyiv) representatives of the delegation of the Land Forces of the IRP officially confirmed their intention to purchase the Ukrainian ATGM “Scythian” (Skif – Ukrainian) manufactured by the state enterprise SKDB “Luch,” provided successful passing of qualification tests in Ukraine and in the summer in IRP.
On February 15-23, 2020, a high-ranking delegation of the IRP Land Forces visited Ukraine to participate in a demonstration (test) of the 152-mm Scythian anti-tank missile system. Based on the results, the intentions to start purchasing these ATGMs (after successful tests in the IRP) were confirmed, and the relevant Protocol was signed.
It should be noted that according to certain clauses of the above-mentioned Protocol, the parties describe the test conditions in the future contract for the supply of 152-mm ATGM “Scythian” to the IRP, i.e. confirm the decision already made by the IRP Land Forces to purchase Ukrainian development. The main competitors of the Ukrainian ATGM in the specified tender were:
- The 160-mm OMTAS ATGM manufactured by Roketsan (Turkey);
- The 152-mm Kornet-E ATGM manufactured by JSC Instrument Design Bureau named after Academician A. G. Shipunov (RF);
- The 152-mm Red Arrow 9 ATGM manufactured by NORINCO (China).
Discussing OMTAS ATGM, both the military and the specialists of the Turkish defense industry are quite skeptical about the compliance of its real tactical and technical characteristics with those stated by the manufacturer. Thus, there is almost no detailed information on the results of comprehensive tests for this ATGM and the effectiveness of its use in combat.
Experts attribute the fact that the Turkish armed forces have adopted the ‘underdeveloped’ complex, first of all, to Turkey’s policy aimed at full cooperation in the development of its own technologies and overcoming external dependence in the military industrial sector, as well as the relevant powerful lobbying of the Turkish company Roketsan in the political leadership of the country.
Meanwhile, the plans and practical work of Turkish arms enterprises to install alternate ATGMs on Turkish combat modules, as well as the desire of certain leading players in the Turkish arms market to localize foreign ATGM production in Turkey, can be considered as signs of low competitiveness of OMTAS system at the current stage.
Turkey’s participation in the tender for the supply of anti-tank systems for the Pakistani army, along with other leading global manufacturers of similar systems, may be based solely on the high level of inter-state relations between Ankara and Islamabad.
Furthermore, it is well-known that the Turkish ATGM tests from July 2020 held in Pakistan resulted in no penetration and zero hits. The further tests showed that the OMTAS anti-tank system does not penetrate the minimum of 850 mm of armor behind the reactive vehicle protection requested by the customer.
Russia is trying to circumvent the sanctions by arranging for the sale of ATGMs through the third-side country
The Kornet-E ATGM (manufactured in Russia) in December 2015 passed a successful test, which led to the signing in 2017 of a contract for the supply of these ATGMs for the Land Forces of the IRP for a total of 210 million euros. However, due to the US and EU sanctions imposed on Russian defense industry enterprises, the parties failed to implement the contract. Among the shortcomings of the Kornet-E ATGM experts identify the following:
- the 5% probability of penetrating modern tanks into the frontal armor;
- target attack is possible only in the line of sight;
- the shooting range difference during day and night: 100 – 5500 m during the day, 100 – 4500 m at night;
- the laser beam unmasks the location of the complex and its combat crew;
- the laser beam is dispersed in adverse weather conditions (fog, rain, snow), thus, the rocket may not reach the target;
- the ATGM combat crew is forced to accompany the missile to hit the target, which complicates leaving their initial position;
- the missile can be intercepted by the means of active defense of the enemy.
Under the current international sanctions, the Russian manufacturer of Kornet-E ATGM system, together with the intelligence services of the Russian Federation, is working on the supply of this complex through the mediation of third countries (primarily using the cover of the CIS countries) or by ‘operational rebranding’ for sale under a different name. All things considered, it is easy for readers to guess which country is in question.
Finally, the Red Arrow-9 complex (manufactured in China) has the following flawless:
- the means of active defense of the enemy can intercept the missile;
- laser control system is quite complex;
- the launching pad is usually mounted on mobile ground and aircraft vehicles.
In addition, representatives of the Chinese ATGM manufacturer conducted three failed tests (constant misses and insufficient armor penetration) in China and, as the result, dropped out of the list of possible suppliers for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Interestingly enough, the Azerbaijani TV channel CBC TV Azerbaijan shot a great video report about the Ukrainian Scythian and Corsair ATGMs.