Pakistani Armed Forces ORBAT, Part 2: Anti Tank, Air Defence & Army Aviation units and weapons

This section covers some of the components (can’t remember the right word for it at the moment) of Pakistani army like regiments, armour and anti-tank units. There is surprisingly little information about even basic information like infantry regiments of Pakistani army and a lot of data is missing.  

Anti Tank 

Pakistani Army utilises dedicated vehicle mounted anti-tank infantry battalions and organic anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) with some infantry battalions.These battalions have good mobility and are meant for harassing enemy armour formations as in defensive as well as offensive operations. Starting from the late 1950s, 1-2 battalions from certain divisions were assigned the role of Reconnaissance and Support (R&S) by arming them with weapons mounted on light vehicles. At that time jeep like vehicles were fitted with recoilless rifles and medium (and heavy?) machine guns. This formed a fast moving screening and reconnaissance element for rest of the forces. 

Later on, most of these battalions were converted into Light Anti Tank (LAT) battalions  assigned to brigade level command. There are some Heavy Anti Tank (HAT) battalions which are most probably under Corps or Division level control. 

Light anti tank troops of Pak army firing a Bhaktar Shikan ATGM
IMAGE 1: Light anti tank troops of Pak army firing a Bhaktar Shikan ATGM (opindia.com)

LATs usually have Bhaktar Shikan (copy of Chinese HJ-8), Milan ATGMs and Alcotán-100, RPG-29 rockets mounted on light vehicles such as Land Rovers. HATs units usually use TOW or BS ATGMs mounted on Talha, copy of M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier.This ATGM mounted version is called Maaz. PA had imported 24 M-901 TOW vehicles in the mid 1980s. It’s not clear how many of them are still operational. 

IMAGE 2 : Maaz APC with Bhakaar Shikan
IMAGE 2 : Maaz APC with Bhakaar Shikan

IMAGE 3: M113 PA2 with TOW 2, belonging to 40 AK, XXXI corps
IMAGE 3: M113 PA2 with TOW 2, belonging to 40 AK, XXXI corps

All of the above anti-tank units, specially the Heavy ones are sub-optimal solutions in the sense that these are just APCs with an ATGM launcher installed on top of the vehicle. These have to be fired by a crew member by sticking his head out of vehicle and aiming it manually. There seems to be very few dedicated ATGM vehicles like M-901 below.

IMAGE 4: M-901 ATGM vehicle with TOW, II Corps
IMAGE 4: M-901 ATGM vehicle with TOW, II Corps

Considering that the vehicle belongs to II Corps based in Punjab with offensive role and the fact that only 24 were purchased, it is likely that there are no more than a regiment worth of these machines in operation.

Following are some of the known anti-tank units:

UNITLOCATION
19 Baloch LAT battalion
5 Punjab? LAT RegimentPeshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
21 Punjab LAT Battalion
23 Punjab LAT Battalion
26 Punjab LAT BattalionSialkot
34 Punjab LATOkara Cantt
TABLE 1: Known Light Anti-Tank Units

UNITFORMATIONWEAPONS
39 AK HAT
40 AK HATXXXI CorpsTOW on M113PA2 APCs
44 AK HATXXX CorpsBhaktar Shikan on VCC-1 APCs
226 AK HAT Company
227 AK HAT CompanyTOW on M113PA2 APCs
36 BalochBhaktar Shikan on VCC-1 APCs
TABLE 2 : Known Heavy Anti-Tank Units

TOWs are also used on  AH-1 Cobras  attack helicopters. 20 of these helicopters were procured in 1985, 12 in 2007 and 14 in 2010. Some have been lost in crashes and combat operations and the remaining fleet is struggling with lack of spares.

Pakistan was looking to acquire 1000 AGM-114R Hellfire ATGMs along with 15 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters in a deal worth USD 952 million with the US, but it was never finalised. Then they ordered 30 T-129 attack helicopters from Turkey along with UMTAS (8 km range) and laser guided Cirit missiles. But even that deal was vetoed by US over Turkey’s purchase of S-400. Turkey is hopeful of developing and fitting a different engine in the helicopter to bypass the American sanctions, but it seems unlikely for now. Earlier, Pakistan had tested and rejected Chinese Z-10 attack helicopters due to poor performance. With other deals failing to materialise, they now may be forced to buy sub-par Chinese machines.

Burraq drone (copy of Chinese CH-3) was weaponised with laser guided Barq missile (copy of Chinese HJ-10) which can be used in anti-tank roles. There is not much information available about number of these drones and missiles in service. Another ATGM they have in their arsenal is Ukranian Kombat laser guided ATGM which is fired from 125mm smooth bore cannon of Al Khalid tank. Its range is 200-5000m.

EQUIPMENT:

TOW and TOW 2: 

Pakistan purchased around 1000 TOW wire guided missiles with AH1-F Cobras and M-109 vehicles. Later 2nd gen 2769 RF TOW 2A and 415 RF bunker buster versions  were acquired in a deal worth USD 185 million in 2004. Some of the TOWs were used by Pakistani army to target Indian posts on LoC and a few against Pashtoons and anti-govt islamists. Remaining should be beyond their shelf-life and possibly retired or used for training. Newer TOW2 are not a fire-and-forget type missile, but still quite a threat to almost any armoured vehicle due to its heavy warhead. 

Bhaktar Shikan:

This is a licensed copy of Chinese HJ-8, which itself copies from TOW and Milan. There are multiple versions of this missile, but its not clear which are deployed by PA. Pakistan started manufacture of this missile in 1997. ISPR claims a production run of ~21000 missiles and some sources claim 23350 between in 22-24 years. Actual number is likely to be lower.  There is also an air-launched version which is probably integrated on Cobras. This missile too needs to be guided to the target by the  operator.

Kornet-E

Pakistan ordered 52 9K129 Kornet-E launchers and 200+ ATGMs from Russia in 2017-18. This includes a few anti-structure missiles and thermal sights for night operations.

Instalaza

A total of 1799 Instalaza ALCOTAN-100 man-portable anti-tank unguided rockets and 158 launchers were purchased between 2016 and 2018. It has a 100mm HEAT charge and weighs 14 kg. Its not clear which units were equipped with these.

Air Defence

Pakistan puts a huge emphasis on Air Defence as evident by Army’s dedicated Air Defence Command, comprising of two divisions and one independent brigade; 3rd Air Defence Division (Sargodha) 4th Air Defence Division (Malir) and 105th (I) Air Defence Brigade and a total of 12-14 brigade HQs.  

This command created an integrated Air Defence Control and Reporting System in the mid 1980s which was supposed to be highly efficient and with good integration among the air force, army as well as navy. PAF shoulders the responsibility of overall defence of Pakistani air space with assistance from army and navy.

  • Air Defence Regiments: These are usually of three types, SAM, mixed (Anti-Air Artillery AAA guns and SAM) and Surveillance. Each regiment has usually 3 batteries with 4-8 SAM launchers or AAA guns. Number of troops is usually 300-400. Battery commander is Captain or Major.
  • Air Defence Brigades: Attached to Armoured divisions.
  • Air Defence Divisions: Attached to Corps.
FIGURE 1: Pakistani Air Defence Command Structure

AD Command HQ is located in Chaklala, Rawalpindi and it controls four geographical Sector HQs. Each such sector HQ controls one Sector Operations Centre (SOC) which gets its inputs from a mix of sensors and radars (airborne and ground based). Operational Control Centres (OCC) which work alongside SOC control the actual AD actions like use of SAMs, interceptors and other available assets . Army’s AD command too is located at Chaklala and is under direct control of GHQ. Each of the army’s AD brigade has multiple regiments with AAA guns, MANPADs and SAMs.

Over the years, Pakistan’s AD network has struggled to keep up with modern challenges. While it has inducted 9 batteries of Chinese medium range HQ-16AE SAMs, it has been unsuccessful in its quest for a longer range SAMs and Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) due to numerous reasons.

NAMERANGE, ALTITUDE (km)BATTERIES x LAUNCHERSUNITS/LOCATIONSRADAR
HQ-16AE/LY-8040,0.015-189 x 4LahoreIBIS-150 L-Band PESA 150km
HQ-927,200Only rumours
HQ-7B/FM-90 SP0.7 -15,0.015-615 x 3S-Band AESA.25 km
SPADA-20002510x 2 sections (6 missiles/ launcher). 750 missilesRAC-3D. 60km
Anza0.5-6,0.03-42400-3500 missilesIR
FIM-92 Stinger8,3.5350 missilesIR
FN-6 MANPAD5.5,3.8295 missilesIR
RBS-70 MANPAD. SP5,3140Laser
TABLE 3: Pakistan’s anti-aircraft missile inventory
  • SP: Self Propelled
  • MANPAD: Man-portable air-defense systems 

HQ-16/LY-80

HQ-16 medium range SAMs are under direct control of Pakistan’s Air Defence Command. They had ordered 3 batteries and 8 IBIS-150 radars in 2013 and 6 more batteries again in 2014.  Each firing battery has 4 vertical launch vehicles with 6 launch tubes making a total of 24 missiles in each battery. Command & Control, search radar and tracking radar are carried separately. Support vehicles include vehicles for power supply, testing, loading and maintenance. 

It uses a mast mounted S-band 3-D passive phased array radar with a range of roughly 150 km as search radar. L-band passive electronically scanned array radars with a range of 80-85 km are used for guidance and tracking. It can detect upto 6 targets and track 4 at the same time.

Confirmed Users: 1 & 3 LOMAD Regiments

HQ-7B/FM-90

HQ-7 is a Chinese copy of French Crotale SAM. This system’s range against aircraft is 0.7 km to 7 km and against cruise missiles is 0.7 km to 11 km with maximum flight ceiling of 12 km. It can detect a target with radar cross section of 0.1 m sq at 20 km and track at 18 km.  It uses mechanically steered S-band 3D Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar which can detect 48 targets and track 24. Each battery has 3 wheeled launchers with each carrying 4 missiles. These two are in control of AD Command

Confirmed User: 89th SAM Regiment

Image 5: HQ-7B/FM-90 SHORAD with 3rd Air Defence Division, Pakistan
Image 5: HQ-7B/FM-90 SHORAD with 3rd Air Defence Division, Pakistan

SPADA-2000

Spada SAMs bought from Italy are under control of PAF AD frmations. It can detect targets up to 60 km away and engage them at 25 km. 750 missiled for 10 batteries with 2 sections each were bought for USD 650 million in 2010. These are deployed in Chaklala, Jacobabad, Kahuta, Kamra, Karachi, Sargodha and Kushab. 

MANPADS

Pakistan uses a large variety of shortranged man portable air defence systems which include laser guided Swedish RBS-70 and infrared homing Anza (copy of Chinese QW-1), Chinese F-6 and American Stinger. Most of the army’s AD units are equipped with these missiles along with AA guns for point defence roles.

HQ-9/FD-2000 – Rumour

Purchase of FD-2000 (export version of HQ9) has never been confirmed apart from some low resolution satellite images, allegedly of vehicles which resemble HQ-9 in a Pakistani airbase near Indian border.  It is more likely to be a rumour or deliberate misinformation at this point. One slightly more credible proof comes from sighting of LY-27A long range anti-stealth radar at Mianwali airbase on Sep 2019. But there are no launchers or targeting radars anywhere nearby.  Reported range of FD-2000 system against aircraft is 7 km-125 km, against cruise missiles is 7 km -25 km and short range ballistic missiles is 7km -25 km with flight ceiling of 27 km.

 JY-27A anti-stealth radar , mianwali, Sep 2019
IMAGE 4:  JY-27A anti-stealth radar, Mianwali, Sep 2019

  1. 5 Lt AD (Fakhar-e-Quaid)
  2. 6 Lt AD (Glorious)
  3. 13 Lt AD.  Peshawar Cant
  4. 19 SP AD
  5. 20 Medium AD (Sky Saviours)
  6. 36 Lt AD
  7. 41 Med AD
  8. 43 Lt AD (Teer-Ba-Hadaf)
  9. 44 SP AD
  10. 52 Medium AD
  11. 58 Medium AD
  12. 67 Light? SP AD Multan Cantt
  13. 75 RCG AD (Katiba Mujahid)
  14. 88 Lt AD (Mardan-e-Haq)
  15. 90 Lt AD
  16. 95 Light AD Regiment. Warsk Garrison, Peshawar
  17. 100 Lt AD (Centurions)
  18. 102 Lt AD
  19. 103 Lt AD
  20. 104 Lt AD (Fakhar e Chaman)
  21. 126 Lt AD (G/M) Regiment (Victorious)
  22. 127 medium AD
  23. 133 RCG AD
  24. 134 RCG AD
  25. 135 Missile AD
  26. 136 RCG AD
  27. 97 RCG AD
  28. 140 Lt AD
  29. 141 Lt AD
  30. 142 Missile AD
  31. 143 Missile AD
  32. 144 SP AD
  33. 145 Lt AD
  34. 146 SP AD (Bahimmat)
  35. 147 Lt AD
  36. 148 SP AD (AK)
  37. 151 SP AD (The Pioneers) Bahawalpur
  38. 152 Lt AD
  39. 153 SP AD – RBS-70 SAM on APC
  40. 154 SP AD
  41. 155 SP AD
  42. 157 Lt AD
  43. 156 Lt AD
  44. 158 Lt AD
  45. 159 Lt AD
  46. 161 Lt AD

Army Aviation Corps

Pakistan Army operates a large variety of aircraft and helicopters, but the number of units is quite small. Most potent machine they have is Mi-35M3, they have only 5 of those. They have American 28-35 operational AH-1F Cobras,20 were bought between 1984-1986, 8 in 2007 and 14 in 2010.  Now most of them are old and need replacement. Their plans to buy 18 AH-1Z from the USA and 30 T-129 from Turkey were junked due to American sanctions. They then tried to buy Chinese Z-10 and even tested it, but rejected it due to performance and cost issues. Turkey was supposed to offer T-129 with a new engine, but this project is in limbo right now.

Table below lists only some of the more numerous aircraft operational as of now.

Role of Pakistani Aviation Corps are:

  • Combat Aviation Support by AHI-F Cobra & Mi-35 attack helicopters and Bell 206B scouts.  Three dedicated combat aviation squadrons and once composite  as listed below. Some of the 206Bs are equipped with machines guns and optical pods.
  • Cargo & Troop Transport by helicopter and fixed wing aircraft like Mi-17, Y-12, Alouettes
  • Intelligence & Reconnaissance by 56th ISR Squadron equipped with Beech 200 and Cessna 208s
  • Battlefield Support by acting as airborne forward air controller, artillery spotter and  assistance with surveillance and casualty evacuation. 
  • High Altitude Support by troop and equipment transport, reconnaissance etc in Pak Occupied Kashmir and Siachen areas by Puma, Mi-17, Lama and Alouette-III
SQUADRONAIRCRAFTLOCATIONNOTES
1st ‘The Pioneers’PAC/MFI-17SA316BMangla
2nd ‘ Above The Best’PAC/MFI-17SA316BLahoreComposite
VVIP FlightMerged with 13th Squad in Aug 2006
3rd ‘Daring Three’PAC/MFI-17SA315BMultan
4th ‘Gallants’Bell 412EPMi-17-1V, Mi-35MGilgitCombat Aviation Squadron plus transport?
5th ‘FearlessFive’MI-17Skardu
6th Emergency Relief Cell‘Anytime, anywhere’AW-139, UH-1HIslamabad
7th ‘Scorpions’Mi-17, SA316BPNS Mehran, Karachi
8th ‘Chumik Saviours’L-19, MFI-17 Planes. Alouette-IIIRawalpindiComposite
9thMFI-17, Alouette-IIIPeshawarComposite
10th “Balochis’MFI-17Multan
11th AAv SquadronAS350B3, PAC/MFI-17, SA315BRahwali
12th ‘Desert Reckoner’Mangla
13th ‘Mujahid’Y-12Rawalpindi
21st Quick Reaction ‘Jabir’Mi-17, Puma?Tarbela Dam
24th ‘Desert Hawks’PumaMultan
25th ‘Azam-O-Laggan’Puma, Bell 412EPGilgit
27th ‘Al-Najam-Us-Saqib’Mi-8, MI-17Rawalpindi
28th AAV SquadronIAR330SM, SA330JRawalpindi
29th AAv SquadronMi-17-1V, Mi-17V-5Rahwali
31st Combat “Panzer’AH-1F Cobra, Bell 206B-2/3MultanCombat Aviation Squadron 
33rd Combat ‘Air Wolves’AH-1F Cobra, Bell 206B-2/3MultanCombat Aviation Squadron 
35th Combat ‘Air Mustangs’AH-1F Cobra, Bell 206B-2/3MultanCombat Aviation Squadron 
50th Border Security Force
56th ISR SquadronBeech 200, Beech 350/350i, Ce208BCe208B EXRawalpindiIntelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron
199 EME Battalion ‘Pioneers’Repair TH-300PAC/MFI-17Rahwali4 companies for Flight line Ops, Technician training, Field Repair & Base Repair.
299 EME BattalionRepair SA315B Mi-8, Alouette-IIIRawalpindi
399 EME BattalionRepair Mi-17
499 EME BattalionRepair AH-1F Cobra
599 EME Battalion ‘Optimists’
Central Aviation Spares Depot, DhamialFormerly Central Ordnance Aviation Depot.
Ordnance Aviation Depot, MultanMultan
1st Forward Area Arming Refuelling Company
2nd Forward Area Arming Refuelling Company
3rd Forward Area Arming Refuelling Company
301st,302nd & 303rd Fuel Storage Platoon
351st, 353nd, 353rd Field Supply Platoons
Pakistan Rangers
Frontier Corps NWFP Aviation Flight
Pakistan Rangers, Sindh
Accident Investigation Board
Army Aviation Cell Artillery Centre
1 Light Company Defence Service Guards
AAv Engineering School
Qasim AAv Base
AAv School, Chakla
Combat Group
503rd Workshop EME
HQ AAv Command
Aviation Directorate
Pakistan Army Aviation Corps
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