ISLAMABAD: The P3C Orion planes destroyed in the PNS Mehran base attack in Karachi cannot be replaced anytime soon, defence and production secretary Lt General (retd) Shahid Iqbal said on Tuesday.
Informing PAC’s sub-committee on defence during a meeting held in Parliament House, Iqbal said that tense US-Pak relations are a major hurdle in acquiring the planes as they are manufactured in America and cannot be ordered from any other country. “It will take some time to replace the lost asset,” he said.
In May, terrorists destroyed two P3C Orion planes parked in the PNS Mehran Base in Karachi in one of Pakistan’s deadliest terrorist attacks on a military installation. Earlier last week the Pakistan Navy moved its main battleships away from Karachi, to another port in Ormara, Balochistan, as security threats continued, sources in the navy said.
The navy had sent its warships away from its main base in Karachi as a “precautionary measure” after a 16-hour siege of its main naval airbase, PNS Mehran. The commando-style gun and rocket-propelled grenade attacks had resulted in the destruction of two P3C Orion airplanes – which were key naval assets.
Meanwhile chairperson of the PAC committee, MNA Zahid Hamid, also inquired about production of J F Thunder planes. Pakistan Air Force authorities said that so far 26 Thunder planes have been manufactured in Pakistan with China’s cooperation, adding that a huge budget is required for Pakistan to manufacture the planes on its own.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.