Pakistan Exporting UAVs to America


By Noah Shachtman

America's killer drones are getting all the attention, in the fight against Pakistani militants. But Pakistan's military has plenty of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, too. And they're being used to spy on suspected insurgents, and listen in on their phone calls.

Since 2002, Pakistan has dramatically expanded its robotic fleet in the sky, Defense News reports. The Pakistani Air Force has two UAV squadrons -- and is looking to build up to six.

"Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters use not just mobile and satellite phones for communication, but also sophisticated military radios," Defense News notes. So companies like East West Infiniti are building SIGINT [signals intelligence] for small drones and robotic blimps, to capture those conversations. Designed for militaries unable to afford high-end, dedicated SIGINT platforms, East West's Whisper Watch system can detect and monitor electronic emissions up to 250 kilometers away and then retransmit to a ground station located out of harms way.

Karachi-based Integrated Dynamics actually exports its Border Eagle surveillance drone to the United States for border patrol duties. The company also makes drones the turbojet-powered Tornado decoy, which can fly up to 200 kilometers, and emit false radar signals to "confuse enemy air defenses into thinking they are attacking aircraft," Defense News says.

Note: Pakistani UAV gear were on display in November, at IDEAS, Pakistan's big military trade show.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of a PRI report on Pakistani drones:

Reports of Pakistan working on producing its own drones began to surface in 2009. The most highly touted model is called the “Burraq”, named for a mythical winged creature that is said to have carried the Prophet Muhammed.

Masood said the military is working hard on it, but there’s still no guarantee it will be flying anytime soon.

“I think they are on a high priority. There is no doubt about it, they are on a high priority. But even if a weapons system is on a high priority because of the complexity and the advanced nature of its technology it may take some time before it is mastered and its full utilization is made.”

In fact, Pakistan already has a long history of designing and producing drones, many of them created by a man named Raja Sabri Khan.

His near obsession with unmanned aircraft started at a young age. Khan found himself compelled to do whatever it took to fund his research.

“I augmented my nonexistent earnings by teaching physics and doing fashion photography so these helped Pakistan’s first drones to be created,” Khan said.

His clear preference for model aircraft over fashion models carried Khan to the top of his industry. In fact, he said he’s sold his unarmed drones to a company he does not want to name in the United States.

Khan said the drones flying in American airspace are being used for law enforcement, security and even search and rescue.

But he is adamantly opposed to arming drones because of the risk that innocent people will be harmed.

Still, Khan expects Pakistan’s political and military leaders will push ahead, seeing a missile firing drone as nothing more than the latest airborne weapon of war.

“I feel bombing civilians is unfair,” he said. “It’s something that cannot be condoned. But at the same time, a drone is nothing more than an aircraft without a pilot [on board]. And if you use it to fight a war, I think political considerations far outweigh the idealistic side of the issue.”

There is another potential side effect of Pakistan’s determination to manufacture its own drone fleet. Talat Masood said China has become a key partner in the development of the Burraq drone.

Masood said the US, which has cooperated with the Pakistani military on joint projects and training for years, should be paying attention.

“So you can see how lasting those bonds are. And any country which has a defense relationship which is strong and binding, then the relationship also becomes very lasting,” he said.


http://www.theworld.org/2012/04/pakistan-building-its-own-drones/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Times report on AI and Robotics education in Pakistan:

ISLAMABAD: Robotics as a discipline of science and technology is being taught at the graduate and post-graduate levels by more than 60 universities of Engineering Science and Technology in Pakistan, official sources told Daily Times here on Saturday.

The research and development (R&D) in advanced fields of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence has also been undertaken by some of laboratories established in the R&D institutes and universities in Pakistan. The official in the Ministry of Science and Technology claimed that there is a technical group engaged in development of automation of industrial processes at the National Institute of Electronics (NIE), Islamabad. The group has developed Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), which are used in automatic industrial controls.

The Centre for Intelligent Machines and Robotics (IMR) at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology has a Research Group, which is undertaking research related to robotics, computer vision and machine learning. The IMR Research Group is conducting basic and applied research in robotics technologies relevant to industrial and societal tasks; the robotics technology in Pakistan has the potential role in boosting the productivity and competitiveness. The researchers at CIIT are working for projects on visual guided robotic systems for use in surgery, navigation control, mapping and geometric representation of environmental parameters.

National Engineering Robotics Contest (NERC) is an inter universities robotics competition held annually since 2005 at the NUST. The contest is organised by HEC, the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Careers Project with more than 60 Pakistani universities participating in the event, and aims to train individuals for engineering services in Pakistan, and cash prizes are awarded to the winners.

NERC 2011 held at the College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME), Rawalpindi from June 28 to July 2. Many universities like FAST, GIKI, LUMS, CASE and UET Lahore participated in the event, where students were encouraged to design, develop and programme their respective robots.

R&D projects on Tele-Surgical Training Robot and Simulators and Development of Intelligent Robotic Wheelchairs are being undertaken by NUST funded by ICT R&D Fund.

International workshops and seminars for knowledge sharing and events at national level for talent hunt among youth in the fields of robotics have been organised regularly at NUST. Specialisation in robotics is a popular choice for students going abroad to study under various scholarships schemes for research and PhD. This field offers job opportunities, and robotics engineers can apply their mastery in diverse fields like modern warfare, surgery, nano-technology and space-exploration.

The official claimed that developing a robot comes with the goal of finding a solution to the problem. Along with the technical know-how, interest in research is essential. This field has promising opportunities, with no boundaries and will continue to grow with the advancement of science and technology in the near future.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\02\10\story_10-2-2013_pg5_12

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