UAV Drone IndustryChina-Pakistan military relations under strain due to substandard servicing, maintenance

October 15, 2021by helo-10

Ties between China and Pakistan, fostered with Beijing supplying a range of modern armaments to Islamabad’s defense forces, have come under strain over unreliable Chinese military hardware and poor, substandard servicing and maintenance.

Writing in a blog post in Al Mayadeen, Nisar Ahmed says that China and Pakistan often extend and express their support for each other’s stance in areas of disputed/occupied territories.

Recently in a display of cooperation, three armed drones, designed by Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group of China and sold by China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC), were inducted into the Pakistan Air force (PAF) in January 2021, reported Al Mayadeen.

But, the purchase of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and its addition to Pakistan’s growing range of military equipment has entered a deadlock. The Chinese-made Wing Loong II Unmanned Aerial Systems (UCAVs) have been grounded due to crippling defects within days of induction, said Ahmed.

Amader Shomoy, in its report ‘Pakistan Air Force has nightmares about Chinese drones’, relates that what has added to the Pak Air Forces’ misery is the dismal service and maintenance provided by the Chinese firm.

CATIC has so far been indifferent to desperate calls for repair and maintenance of the grounded drones. The spares supplied by the firm were substandard and mostly unfit for use. The engineers dispatched to Pakistan to make the grounded aerial vehicles operational at the earliest proved to be incompetent.

Pakistani officials have now asked the Chinese firm to send a better-trained group of professionals to tide over the serious crisis, wrote Ahmed.

Equally, the most serious problem was the leakage of nitrogen from Electro-Optical / Infra-Red

(EO/IR) cameras mounted on the UAVs, which rendered EO/IR systems useless. These imaging systems provide total situational awareness, both day and night, and in low light conditions.

Given its importance, Pakistan Air Force officials wanted an immediate replacement of the EO/IR pods. The Chinese firm was yet to respond to the urgent plea.

The UAV’s rear fuel pump also failed. Interestingly, the spares supplied by the Chinese firm with the drone were a mismatch.

Similarly, the defueling equipment supplied with the drones was found to be unserviceable due to contamination. Its replacement is still awaited by PAF, reported Al Mayadeen.

Another critical failure has been that of SATCOM in some of these drones during the launch and take-off stages. On the ground, the SATCOM antenna failed during the Site Acceptance Test (SAT).

Serious faults were also detected in High-Performance Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) within hours of putting the drones into operation. Faulty SARs leave the unmanned aerial vehicles blinded, unfit for operation.

An excerpt from the BD Pratidin’s story called ‘Pakistan Air Force is in trouble for buying faulty Chinese drones’ reads that this is not the first time that Pakistani military brass is realizing the unreliability of Chinese military hardware and poor, substandard servicing and maintenance.

Pakistan Air force has been coping with a series of inferior military hardware imported from China, including combat aircraft and armed drones, two critical operational components, wrote Ahmed.

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