KARACHI: Manufacturers of Chinese, Turkish and Italian defense products on Wednesday said they hoped to clinch lucrative deals while attending Pakistan’s International Defense Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2022, the largest such event hosted by the South Asian nation.
The eleventh annual exhibition kicked off earlier this week in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi, bringing together leading national and international manufacturers of military-grade hardware and software.
Nearly 400 delegates from 57 countries are participating in this year’s IDEAS exhibition. A large number of research and development experts from various countries, along with high-level foreign dignitaries, civil and military officials, are also attending the four-day event.
Speaking to Arab News, foreign defense product manufacturers expressed optimism about signing agreements at IDEAS 2022.
“We are here just to consolidate our relationship with [Pakistan] Navy, hoping that our working progress in Pakistan can become a contract very soon,” Marcellino Corsi, a senior consultant for the Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri, told Arab News.
“Meaning, the Italian and Pakistan navies can collaborate in the future for the production of submarines, warships and also collaborate in logistic support at naval bases.”
Fincantieri, known for manufacturing submarines and warships, operates in several countries including the US, Vietnam and Norway.
Representatives for China Electronic Technology Corporation (CETC), a Chinese state-owned manufacturer of the advanced ZDK-03 system, an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), also said they hoped to manufacture the system in Pakistan.
The Early Warning (EW) system is a high-technology radar that can detect objects within a 300 km range in the sea and on the surface.
Fang Chong, the chief representative of CETC in Pakistan, told Arab News the company was considering “joint ventures” to develop the system in Pakistan. Chong said the system had already been inducted in the Pakistan Air Force, and Pakistan had been using it for the last 20 years.
“We have already established two different production lines for JF-17 Thunder fighters in Kamra (Pakistan Aeronautical complex), and for the JF-17 Thunder we are supplying a complete avionics sub-system,” Chong said.
Alongside China, Turkiye has sent the largest number of defense exhibitors to IDEAS 2022. A total of 28 top Turkish defense manufacturers are showcasing their military hardware, including STM (Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret AS), Roketson, Meteksan and Tualcom.
Turkish defense companies are displaying a wide range of products, from military hardware to tactical mini-UAV systems to light weaponry. Turkish artificial intelligence and cybersecurity solutions are also on display at the exhibition.
“We want to fulfil the requirements of the Turkish armed forces as well as the requirements of allied countries’ armed forces,” Cumhur Murat BOZ, regional manager for Roketsan in Central Asia and the Far East, told Arab News.
“So, with participation in this exhibition, we would like to introduce our new products to Pakistan’s armed forces and would like to help them to protect and make a contribution to the protection of their borders.”
As foreign companies look toward expanding their outreach in Pakistan, the government-owned Wah Industries, a manufacturer of weapons and ammunition, is also keen on exporting military-grade drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
Pakistan is showcasing its air, ground and sea defense prowess at the exhibition, and items on display at IDEAS include the JF-17 Thunder and the Super Mushshak trainer aircraft.
Pakistani manufacturers are also showcasing the first indigenous anti-ship cruise missile ‘Harbah-NG,’ an all-weather, subsonic anti-ship cruise missile that can hit a target within the range of 290 kilometers.
“The anatomy of warfare is changing and the biggest challenge of any defense industry, like us, is how warfare is changing and how new technologies are being introduced,” Usman Ali Bhatti, CEO and managing director of Wah Industries Limited, told Arab News.
Bhatti said the usage of drones and UAVs had changed across the world over the past couple of years:
“So, in the present circumstances, one of the biggest challenges for our company was to enter this market … I am optimistic that we will find an export market.”
Companies producing Artificial Intelligence (AI) products are also taking part in IDEAS2022.
Autilent, a Karachi-based startup that won a grant from the Saudi government’s TAQADAM startup accelerator last year, is displaying its AI face recognition technology. The product is meant for the security of safe city projects, which use technology to help deter crimes.
“We are associated with different ministries – in fact, we are also working in Saudi Arabia,” Abdul Muqsit Abbasi, Autilent CEO, told Arab News.
“Our technology is being used by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies and it can be deployed to set up an advanced security and safety system,” Abbasi added. “Autilent is an AI-powered smart solution whose target is to prevent road accidents from happening.”
IDEAS, which began on Tuesday, will conclude on Friday with an air force show.