Pakistan’s first indigenous armed drone is likely to have been supported, designed or supplied by China, according to defence analysts.
Neil Gibson, a weapons analyst with a weekly defence-based magazine, IHS Jane’s, said "close analysis of imagery released by Pakistan suggests at least a heavy debt to Chinese systems”. The Burraq, he added, “strongly resembles” China’s CH-3 UAV, The Financial Times reported.
Read: Drone war: ‘Burraq’ turned the tide in Tirah battle, say officials
Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), also believes China must have helped Pakistan if it did indeed produce a UAV that goes beyond basic reconnaissance.
“Developing a drone with armed capability is much more difficult than just a reconnaissance one because the reconnaissance one can be built with very basic technology, but integrating weapons is a different level,” he said. “Either it is a Chinese UAV or based on Chinese technology.”
The statements come days after Pakistan said it had for the first time deployed a locally manufactured drone which killed three ‘high-profile’ terrorists in North Waziristan Agency, in what one analyst termed a ‘significant development’ for the country’s defence capabilities.
Read: In a first, ‘Burraq’ strikes in Shawal Valley
“The first-ever use of Pakistan-made Burraq drone on Monday. Hit a terrorist compound in Shawal Valley, killing three high-profile terrorists,” said Inter-Services Public Relations’ (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asim Salim Bajwa in a message on micro-blogging website Twitter.
Shawal Valley, situated on the confluence of borders between North and South Waziristan tribal agencies near the border with Afghanistan, has seen some of the fiercest fighting between Pakistani troops and the Taliban since the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb in mid-June, last year.
The attack appeared to mark a significant milestone for Pakistan, which has now joined the small club of countries with armed drones. In the past, Islamabad repeatedly sought to buy them from the US but Washington, reluctant to export sensitive technology, refused.
Read: Six militants killed in US drone strike near Pakistan, Afghanistan border
However, China an ally of nuclear-armed Pakistan and its most important conventional weapons supplier appears to have stepped up its support.
Sipri said this year that just over half of Pakistan’s weapon imports from 2010 to 2014 came from China, and 30 per cent from the US. Pakistan emerged as China’s largest arms customer, accounting for 41 per cent of Beijing’s exports during the same period.
This article originally appeared on Financial Times
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