Pakistan Needs Foreign Help to Develop Missiles

Pakistan’s lack of modern industry makes it greatly dependent on outside sources for its missile program. It must buy rocket propellant, guidance components and design and testing equipment, U.S. officials tell the Risk Report.

“It would be hard to think of countries they have not hit on” for these technologies, says a U.S. official who tracks Pakistan’s program. But the challenge for Islamabad is to circumvent the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), whose members notify each other whenever they deny a missile-related export, and who have cooperated to deny Pakistan what it needs.

China has been Pakistan’s primary supplier. In the late 1980s, Beijing and Islamabad signed an agreement for defense and scientific cooperation that paved the way for Pakistan to benefit from China’s missile expertise. The two countries have co-developed an anti-aircraft missile, the “Anza-II,” and are working together on an anti-tank missile, the “Green Arrow.”

Despite this help from Beijing, Pakistan still has little ability to produce essential items such as radar, sensors, computers and electronics.

According to a 1992 Pentagon study which ranks countries’ military capabilities, Pakistan needs significant help building aerospace structures and propulsion technology, and lacks capability in the following areas:

  • Computer-aided design and manufacture. High-speed computers are critical to all stages of missile development, but Pakistan has very little indigenous capability.
  • Electronic inspection and testing equipment
  • Specialized precision machine tools. Micro-mechanical devices are required for the production of precision bearings for military hardware, including low torque and extreme precision bearings critical to develop gyroscopes and accelerometers that can measure the location and speed of missiles.
  • Gravity gradiometers. Used to measure gravity magnitudes needed for multi-functional inertial navigation systems.
  • Radar and direction-finding systems. Required for launch support, navigation and guidance.
  • Specialized alloys and composites. Used to manufacture missile structures.