The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) is about to begin the co-production of Selex Galileo's Falco unmanned air vehicle at its facilities in Kamra.
The Falco will be the first military UAV to be produced in Pakistan, says the nation's air force, which expects the first example to be rolled out in the "near future". The type will be used primarily for surveillance missions, says air force chief of staff Air Marshal Farhat Hussain.
PAC engineers have spent two years on the project, which represents a "major step toward the goal of self-reliance in military aviation", says Hussain. "The Falco UAV will greatly enhance the air force's operational capability," he adds.
Air Vice Marshal Aminullah Khan, managing director of PAC's aircraft manufacturing factory, says the project also represents a "quantum leap" in the company's ability to work with composite materials. "The induction of this technology has opened a new dimension in the field of aviation manufacturing at PAC, and would be used for other futuristic requirements," he says.
© Selex Galileo
The Falco can carry a wide range of surveillance payloads, says Selex Galileo. These can include a laser designator, maritime surveillance radar and nuclear, biological and chemical detection sensors. The air vehicle can also be equipped with chaff and flare dispensers for self-protection purposes.
With an endurance of 8-14h and a standard control link range of 200 km (370nm), the Falco has short take-off capability from semi-prepared airstrips, or can be launched using a pneumatic catapult. Recovery is made via either automatic landing, tactical short landing or by parachute.
The Falco production work is the second major programme to have been started by the PAC this year. In June, the company began the final assembly of its first Chengdu JF-17 fighter, with the goal of delivering between four and six to the Pakistan air force before year-end.
With full production now under way, the company plans to produce 12 JF-17s in 2010, 15-16 a year from 2011, and eventually increase this output to 25 a year. Pakistan is to buy 150 domestically produced JF-17s under its contract with Chengdu, but could eventually boost this total to up to 300 of the aircraft.