KARACHI: Pakistan is close to finalising arrangements to start the commercial sale of locally manufactured rifle including the POF Eye corner shotgun, which has the capability to see around walls and claimed by its makers to be highly effective in close-quarter battles, officials said on Thursday.
The POF Eye named after Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) where it has been made, was first unveiled in 2008 as one of the new weapons to equip military for counterinsurgency campaigns.
Along with two dozen products exhibited at the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2012, POF has put on display three automatic assault and sniper rifles which it does not export as yet.
“There are some United Nations (UN) guidelines that make it difficult to market the weapons,” said a senior POF official.
“Sometimes a gun sold to one country ends up in another where the international community has concerns of the weapon failing into the wrong hands. That is what happened with us and we were made answerable.”
He did not explain, however, the measures being adopted to allay those concerns but said the state-owned company was already receiving orders.
The POF Eye’s front component can bend around walls up to 60 degrees and show locations of enemy on a digital screen attached to the butt of the gun. It helps eliminate a target without coming in direct contact with enemy’s line of sight.
The other weapons include G3M and G3S, variants of the G3 automatic rifles – the standard weapon of the Pakistan Army – that POF manufactures locally to make the gun effective and powerful. All of them were for sale.
But POF’s Director Exports Tabassum Rahman said that the company’s main purpose was to meet the requirements of Pakistan’s infantry. “Exports make up a minor share of our overall production. We have to look at our own needs first.”
He said that POF regularly exports to foreign armies, which prefer Pakistani products because of quality and cost. “A lot of countries make MG3 (machine gun, but Germans preferred us when they recently needed the weapon. We have better quality.”
While the exhibition has not been opened for the public and the halls at the Expo Centre Karachi were crowded by mostly uniformed guests, foreign delegates did take interest in some of the locally developed defence products.
The Directorate General Munitions Production (DGMP) had put up for sale the high-tech indigenously developed tank simulators, which Pakistan Army has been using for the past five years.
“This helps forces save cost and train the manpower effectively,” said a civilian scientist affiliated with the project. “Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and some other countries have already expressed their interest in buying this equipment.”
The simulator has been designed to create war-like scenarios for modern armoured vehicles with the tanks body fitted over a hydraulic system to make the experience real for the driver and the gunner, he explained.
Some local private companies were also trying to woo potential customers, including the Pakistan Army, with products they insisted made a lot of difference on war economy – the set of contingencies undertaken by a modern state to mobilise its economy for war production.
Universal Graphics and Developer is basically an outdoor advertisement company and its CEO Jalal M Khan is now trying to convince the army to use inflatable decoys, which look like military installations and can fool the attacking air force.
“This is a relatively new concept but very cost effective. These inflatable military goods come in every shape from tanks, rocket launchers, radar and aircrafts. For just a few thousand dollars, you can literally save millions of dollars,” he said.
Interesting thing is that they can send out deceptive heat and radiation signals to enemy aircraft as well, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2012.