Pakistan is in the process of retrofitting its fleet of MFI-395 Super Mushshak military training aircraft with new intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and light-weight laser guided munition, IHS Jane’s reports. State-owned Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) is upgrading the training aircraft for use in counterinsurgency (COIN) operations.
The MFI-395 Super Mushshak is a PAC license-built variant of the Saab MFI-17 Supporter aircraft, which Pakistan acquired from Sweden in the 1980s. As I explained elsewhere:
In comparison to its Swedish predecessor, the upgraded MFI-395 variant features a new engine and a new flight control system, among other things.
Fitted with six hardpoints under the wing pylons, the aircraft can be armed with rockets and missiles. The MFI-395 entered service in 2001. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) is currently operating around 300 Super Mushshaks at various training facilities.
It is unclear how many of the 300 training aircraft will be reconfigured for COIN operations. According to IHS Jane’s, the aircraft could possibly be armed with the Chinese-built 25 kg FT-10 precision-guided bomb.
“Complete integration of the weapons is expected to take another three to four months, which will also cover the design and manufacture of the pylons, quality checks, flight test, and eventually a test drop,” the report notes.
PAC is also outfitting the aircraft with an L3 Wescam MX-10 electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) pod following an inquiry by international customers as to whether the aircraft could be used as an ISR platform. “We have had several customers inquiring about integrating an ISR system, so we are looking at options,” PAC chairman, Air Marshal Arshad Malik, said in an interview with IHS Jane’s.
“While sitting in the cockpit’s right seat, the turret operator would control the camera and watch the video feed on the glass screen. At the same time the imagery could be downlinked to the battle commander on the ground. It’s a very simple system,” Malik added. One training aircraft has reportedly already been equipped with a L3 Wescam MX-10.
According to Malik, “PAC is in the process of incorporating servos for the autopilot, too,” in order to ease the pilot’s workload and to help control the aircraft following.
PAC has exported the MFI-395 Super Mushshak to a number of countries including Nigeria and Qatar. Earlier this month, it scored its biggest export order so far when the Turkish Undersecretary for Defense Industries (SSM) awarded PAC a contract for the sale of 52 Super Mushshak aircraft. PAC won the competitive bidding process in July 2016.