From November 15-19, a Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) delegation – led by POF Chairman Lt. General Umar Farooq Durrani – visited Poland to discuss potential cooperation between POF and the Polish small arms industry, which is represented by the Polish Armaments Group (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa SA: PGZ). This is the first of three Pakistani visits to PGZ scheduled for the current year.
Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) delegation meeting with PGZ. Photo source: PGZ
According to PGZ, the “main topic of talks” between Lt. Gen. Durrani and PGZ board member Maciej Lew-Mirski was the “potential of the purchase and transfer of technology related to the production of small arms and ammunition” for the purpose of supplanting the Pakistan Army’s G-3 and Type 56 assault rifles.
Maciej Lew-Mirski states that PGZ sees considerable opportunity in Pakistan’s defence market for Polish small arms manufacturers and other armament suppliers:
“Pakistan has a huge demand for small arms, which is linked to the unstable situation in their region … The PGZ sees great potential in cooperation with Islamabad, not only in the field of small arms but also in other areas of Pakistan’s modernization program.”
Should the Pakistan Army proceed with a small arms modernization program, PGZ estimates that the Army could require “between 500 and 800,000 new automatic rifles, which should replace existing weapons”, a program that could be worth up to $2 billion U.S.
Chairman of Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) Lt. Gen. Umar Farooq Durrani meeting with PGZ officials. Photo source: PGZ
The POF delegation visited Fabryka Broni (FB) “Łucznik” in Radom, the Tarnów S.A. Mechanical Plant (Zakłady Mechaniczne Tarnów S.A: ZMT) and MESKO in Skarżysko-Kamienna.
Among FB-Radom’s marquee products is the GROT – Modular Firearm System (MSBS), a modular assault rifle that can be chambered for 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO and 7.62x39mm. ZMT is a manufacturer of original design light and heavy machine guns as well as sniper rifles. MESKO manufactures ammunition.
Notes & Comments:
At Pakistan’s biennial defence exhibition IDEAS, which took place in November 2016, POF and PGZ signed a letter-of-understanding (LOU) to “intensively negotiate [for] collaboration in the field of ammunitions procurement, supplies and related technology to … POF.”
However, PGZ evidently senses a greater opportunity in the Pakistan Army’s potential need for new small arms, for which POF had also signed an LOU with the Czech firearms maker Česká zbrojovka (CZ). The status of the program is not clear, but POF’s recent visit to PGZ would suggest that POF is still engaged on the matter of transitioning from the Heckler & Koch G-3 to a new assault rifle platform.
FBLR MSBS – Photo source: Defence24
Like the CZ-807, the FB MSBS is a modular design. It can be built to fire either 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm or 7.62x51mm. Derived from a common platform, modular rifles enable manufacturers to fulfill the needs of distinct markets without having to maintain separate product manufacturing lines. Adopting a design of this sort would enable POF to produce rifles tailored to the specific needs of Army infantry – be it those engaged in counterinsurgency or conventional operations – the paramilitary forces or law-enforcement.
POF is seeking $250 million U.S. in funding over the next five years to modernize its production facilities. In October, POF informed the Pakistani Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence Production that 58% of POF’s machinery is on average 30 years of age. The obsolescence of its manufacturing line is negatively affecting POF’s cost-of-production and efficiency, resulting in challenges for its domestic mandate and its commercial and defence export objectives.
In terms of policy, the governments of Pakistan and Poland have mutually called for strengthening defence ties. In September, Pakistan’s Minister of Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain met with Poland’s Minister of National Defence Antoni Macierewicz. Following the meeting, the two sides reiterated their intent to “further enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all areas and particularly in the defence sector.”