Army Equipment - Introduction

The lack of equipment at the time of independence presented great problems. Most of the depots and virtually all of the military production facilities were located in areas that became India, which was less than forthcoming in handing over the share of military matériel that was due Pakistan under the partition agreement. Pakistan received little or nothing in the way of ships and only two of the ten squadrons of the former Royal Indian Air Force. Pakistani military historian Fazl Muqeem Khan records: "It is no exaggeration to say that for its first few months the infant state of Pakistan was without an organized army."

In the spring of 1965, Pakistani tanks (received from the United States as part of its military as-sistance program) intruded into Indian territory in the Rann of Kutch. The memoirs of senior Pakistani officers reveal that the deploymentof American-supplied armour inKutch had two objectives. The first was to entice Indian armour away from northern India, wherean attack on Kashmir wasplanned for later in the year, and the second was to see how strongly the UnitedStates would protest Pakistan's use of tanks it had provided, in clear violation of Pakistan's commitment. The United States did protest, but it was ignored.

The Pakistani Army itself crossed the international border into Kashmir on 1 September 1965. The Indian AirForce halted the Pakistani tank columns despite fierce battles overhead between the two air forces. Pursuant to India's clear warning to Pakistan, given yearsearlier and often repeated thereafter, that "crossing the international border would invite strong retaliation,"the Indian Army launched a counterattack on 6 September and advanced toward Lahore, in the Punjab. In response, the Pakistani land forces withdrew from Kashmir and headed for the Punjab. Land and air battles continued until a cease-fire was declared on 23 September 1965.

The 23-day war in September 1965, a short but bloody affair, resulted in one of the largest tank battles since World War II. The fighting was not contained in Jammu and Kashmir, scene of the 1947-48 strife, but also reached Punjab, which was farther south. The Indian artillery defended the northern sector and also supported the advance of the Indian Army into Pakistani territory. At the Ichhogil Canal near Kasur, the Indian artillery had a devastating effect on the Pakistanis. Indian troops destroyed countless Pakistani tanks and inflicted heavy casualties at Usal Uttar. The Indian Army used antitank weapons, armor, and artillery with uncanny accuracy and isolated the enemy infantry from their M48 tanks, which allowed the M48 tanks to be picked off at will. The Pakistani counteroffensive was stopped in its tracks, and the fighting soon ceased. India emerged from the war with smaller losses of military equipment and personnel than Pakistan. Exact loss figures have never been made public, but both countries probnbly lost a third of their tanks.

Although Pakistan was perceived by India as a threat, a decade of poor economic performance and the US arms embargo degraded the army and air force. While the army had expanded by five infantry divisions, manpower increased by only 40,000. Most of the 2,300+ tanks were obsolescent, with the exception of 300 modern T-80UDs manufactured by Ukraine, and mechanized forces had older M-113 armored personnel carriers. Heavy forces appeared incapable of sustained offensive action. The army lacked adequate medium altitude air defense systems and helicopters and had experienced difficulty in acquiring equipment from any source.

In the new century, Pakistan's tank inventory, while somewhat smaller than India's, had been much better maintained and upgraded over the years. The Taxila facility, built with Chinese aid, can undertake any level of modernization and retrofit of existing tanks as well as the assembly and manufacture of new production tanks and components. Pakistan's Type 59 (licensed T-54) represents the country's largest single tank type, and has been the focus of a major and comprehensive modernization and retrofit effort. On 26 Feb 2004, the Pakistan Army received the first consignment of eighty Al-Zarar tanks upgraded from the old T-59 Chinese origin tank. The upgrade was completed at Heavy Industries Taxila. The Al-Zarar features a 125mm smooth bore main gun and is capable of all-weather day and night operations. Similar upgrades for the Type 69-IIMP have made these tanks fully battleworthy. The Type 85-IIAP, one of two tanks being manufactured, is a modern design that is well maintained and ready for combat.

The equipment holdings of the Pakistan Army are poorly characterized in the open literature. In 1994 major weapons were reported to include nearly 2,000 tanks (mainly Chinese but also 120 M-47s and 280 M-48A5s of United States origin), 820 M-113 armored personnel carriers, 1,566 towed artillery pieces, 240 self-propelled artillery pieces, 45 multiple rocket launchers, 725 mortars, 800 Cobra, TOW, and Green Arrow antitank guided weapons, eighteen Hatf surface-to-surface missiles, 2,000 air defense guns, and 350 Stinger and Redeye missiles and 500 Anza surface-to-air missiles. The army's combat aircraft inventory consisted of twenty AH-1F airplanes equipped with TOW missiles.

As of early 2002 Pakistan was estimated to have between 2,300 and 2,800 tanks. In the absence of signficant changes in force structure over the intervening period, the lower estimate of somewhat more than 2,000 tanks seems rather more plausible than the higher estimate. Since the turn of the century IISS had been rather consistently estimating about 2,450 tanks, of which over 250 were known from other sources to be in storage.

Wikipedia claimed as of 14 February 2009 that Pakistan had a total of some 3250 tanks. But these estimates are clearly far to high, since they evidently count has currently on hand the full production run of all 600 Al-Khalid MBTs, when only a fraction of this number are known to have been produced. Other such defects could be enumerated. And one 2009 account claims that "Pakistan's tank armory comprises: five hundred Al-Khalid MBT's; 320 Al-Zarrar type 85 II MBT's, 500 Al-Zarrar MBT's; 450 79II AP (Chinese type 81 upgrade, and 570 T-80 UD MBT of Ukranian make. In addition, Pakistan has 880 Type 59, which were procured from China in 1970. This makes a total of three thousand six hundred and twenty tanks."

But the "authoritative" Military Balance published early each year by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies seems equally unhelpful. Since the turn of the century, year after year the same numbers are republished. This cannot be the case. It is evident that over this period the Navy and Air Force of Pakistan have embarked on quite substantial arms buildup efforts, and it begars the imagination to believe that the Pakistan Army, surely the single most powerful institution in the entire country, has not followed suit. Andecdotal accounts by apparently well informed sources speak of the Al-Khalid MBT having entered serial production around 2004, and yet the Military Balance teaches that no more than the initial batch delivered that year have entered service.

On 13 February 2009 Internews reported that the Standing Committee on Defence Production of Pakistan's National Assembly had been informed that the Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) had so far handed over 570 state-of-the-art tanks to the army. Briefing the committee members headed by Sheikh Aftab Ahmed during their visit to the HIT, Chairman Lt General Ayyaz Rana said the HIT will hand over 30 more tanks to the army by middle of this year. The HIT chairman said with the handing over of the 30 tanks, the project of manufacturing 600 Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar battle tanks for the army will be completed. It was speculated that the breakdown between the two was 50 % - 50 % ( 300 - 300 ). But this report conflicts with previous reports that Pakistan planned to build a total of 400 Al-Zarrar and 600 Al-Khalid tanks for its armed forces.

WikiMedia riazhaq IISS Global
Al-Khalid MBT-2000 600 500 220 45 220
  • 2004 = 90 on hand
  • 2004 = 50 / year
  • 2005-06 = 45
  • 2008 = ~300 upper limit
    IISS clearly understates total seems about right
    others clearly way too high
  • T-80UD 320 570 320 320 320
  • 320 Delivered 1997-2002.
  • 250 more ordered in 2002.
    riazhaq assumes these were delivered, but they were not.
  • Type 85-IIAP 500 320 300 275+ 300 WikiMedia way too high
    Type 69-II 450 450 350 400 400 IISS estimate of 400 splits the differences between other sources
    Type 59 Al-Zarar 500 500 ? - 500
  • 1990 = 1300 total by IISS estimate
  • 80 Al-Zarar delivered 2004
  • 44 Al-Zarar upgrades 2005-06
  • 400 Al-Zarar planned
  • WikiMedia & riazhaq claim that all remain in service, with 500 upgraded to Al-Zarar
  • IISS makes no report on Al-Zarrar
  • claims 600 total includes Al-Zarar
  • Type 59 880 880 600 1100 500
    T-54/-55 - - - 51 0 IISS number is impossibly precise, and this old warhorse has surely been put out to pasture by now
    M48A5* - - - [270] [270] Most sources ignore this elderly "stored" equipment
    TOTAL3250 3620
    1790 2191
  • riazhaq text provides two different totals, and the listing adds up to a third, intermediate, total
  • WikiMedia total is roughly equal to the riazhaq intermediate total, since their numbers are the same except for transposing the T-80UD and Type 85-IIAP numbers.
  • is clearly too low, and would seem to reflect undercounting the Type 59 Al-Zarar conversions
  • IISS total seems correct, and would be consistent with undercounting the Type 59 Al-Zarar conversions

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