The General in a Hurry Now Buying German Spy Planes for Millions

A LUNA takes off in the field: It is a Toy, say experts

By M T Butt

ISLAMABAD, August 24(2005): After failing to push through a dubious $85 million deal for night vision equipment for tanks from a French company in late June, as the deal was exposed in time by the South Asia Tribune, the same ambitious top Pakistan Army General is now bull-dozing another $27 million deal to rush purchase German surveillance spy aircraft, bypassing all Army rules and regulations.

But again, patriotic but angry, officers of the Army in the General Head Quarters in Rawalpindi are determined not to let him get his way. Click to See previous stories: Part-I | Musharraf’s Call saves $37M

They have again released all the details of this new deal to the South Asia Tribune, hoping that General Pervez Musharraf will again intervene and stop this budding Admiral Mansurul Haq of the Pakistan Army, as he did in the last case.

The General in a hurry to purchase anything, no matter how rotten or below standard or high priced, is the Chief of General Staff, Lt. General Tariq Majeed whose last bid to buy French night vision equipment from Thales was foiled at the last moment by a telephone call from General Musharraf, saving the Army an extra $37 million.

Now his eyes are on German UAV unmanned spy aircraft, LUNA, and he has ordered that at least 4 or 5 of these planes be purchased immediately for an amount exceeding $27 million.

According to details sent to the South Asia Tribune by GHQ officers not happy with the deal, the hasty selection of the LUNA UAV system has been done by the CGS in complete isolation without inviting any competitive international bids from other prospective UAV manufacturers in the world.

“This is a direct contravention and violation of the government procurement rules and regulations,” an Email received from the GHQ officers revealed.

The LUNA UAV system was also hurriedly tested in Pakistan without extending any invitation to other prospective international manufacturers by the W&E Directorate. The requirement of comparative trials for such high end projects was completely by-passed to select a ‘preferred’ but inferior UAV system which was only dear and near to the heart of the CGS,” the Email said. There are cheaper and better Tactical Military UAV systems available worldwide.

The angry officers believe the CGS, Lt. Gen Tariq Majeed, is continuing to flaunt internal procedures and processes and is acting like a civilian business owner in the way he is taking vital operational decisions.

The scheduled purchase of LUNA, the UAV manufactured by EMT of Germany, is generating anger and frustration in the officers. They say LUNA UAV is a very small model plane. It is primarily used for very close area monitoring and does not even qualify to be a tactical military UAV system.

However, last year and all of a sudden, CGS Gen. Tariq Majeed ordered his juniors to immediately start evaluating and eventually purchase the system for Pakistan Army.

“It is quite unprecedented and against the normal code of ethics that a serving General categorically orders to purchase a specific system without first having it go through the standard laid-down procedures of merit, selection, tests and trials,” an officer’s message said.

Almost simultaneously, as if he had an intuition, the Operations Director of the seller company, Target Consultations Services, Mr. Salim Khan, who represents EMT of Germany in Pakistan, sent a brief proposal to W&E Directorate in the General Head Quarters (GHQ) on August 23, 2004 (TCS Letter No. TCS/WNE/012).

The proposal was evaluated on accelerated priority under orders of the CGS and was hurriedly called in for test and trials.

Not surprisingly, during these tests which were held in the last week of February 2005 at three different locations in Pakistan, the Military Intelligence Directorate raised serious concerns on the viability of the UAV as the type of equipment it had used was being manufactured commercially off-the-shelf and hence anyone with the same equipment could easily and literally ‘hijack’ the subject UAV system.

The MI Directorate, being the user, opined in its written report: ”It is finally concluded that incorporation of Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) products available to any customer may have serious implications on the survivability of the UAV.”

The Technical Directorate of GHQ, ITD Directorate, in collaboration with IE&I also pointed out serious deficiencies in the subject UAV system compared with the official and approved General Staff Requirement (GSR) of the GHQ for Tactical UAV systems.

The ITD Directorate in its report said that the subject UAV system had no ECM capabilities, was open to enemy jamming and was unable to detect enemy objects from the required flying height.

The ITD in its original report recommended that the UAV should first incorporate all the missing parameters and then it should be tested again in Pakistan to confirm the changes before any decisions are taken.

Instead of following the established Army rules and regulations and to reject the system because it did not follow the official Staff Requirement, an impatient General Majeed chose otherwise.

The angry officers revealed: “He ordered to have the Tactical UAV GSR changed in order to accommodate the shortcomings of the LUNA UAV system. Mysteriously, the ITD Report’s original conclusions were also changed when the report reached the office of ITD Director General, Major General Mohammed Asaad.”

Bulldozing all the technical objections and procedural elements, the CGS is now very keen to have an inferior UAV system inducted into the Army which essentially no one but the CGS wants.

The CGS has also instructed the Military Operations and Military Intelligence Directorate to arrange the funds for over US$27 million to buy 4 to 5 LUNA UAV Systems in FY 2005-06 under the Army Future Development Program (AFDP) Fund – 2019.

In an In-House Discussions (IHD) meeting held at the GHQ on 27 July 2005, attended by the CGS and all the concerned Director Generals, including the MI, MO and ITD, the CGS surprised everyone by announcing the decision and instructed the W&E Directorate to buy 4 LUNA UAV systems this year.

The irony is that in the same meeting the CGS also emphasized that the ultimate reliance of the Army should always remain on ‘indigenously’ developed UAVs.

To cover up his hasty purchase, the CGS also instructed that ‘after’ the induction of the LUNA UAV system he had ordered, all other (and better) UAV system induction from the international market should be ‘limited’, perhaps to keep out the competition in future for the long term contract of his favorite system.

One message received by the South Asia Tribune says: “This has caused serious concern in the ranks of the GHQ and officers who rightly think that rules are being played with in order to buy a toy which will eventually be of no use for them as Pakistani companies are developing much better UAV systems in Pakistan.”

“But for the sake of their job, pay and pension they cannot defy the orders of the CGS. The most amazing part of this story is the conduct unbecoming of the CGS, Lt. Gen Tariq Majeed who is literally acting as the paid and employed agent for the German company, EMT.”

“Army procurement procedures, as have been laid down over many years of experience, are designed for a reason to provide the best equipment at the best price to Pakistan Defense forces, however, when people like the CGS come along and exploit the procedures by virtue of their position they severely damage the reputation of an otherwise high character institution,” the officers maintain.

Experts say Pakistan Army has its own indigenous UAV development program for the last 8 years in which they are making three types of Tactical UAV Systems. These UAVs include, Hud-Hud and two others manufactured by Integrated Defense Services (ex-PMO).

One local private company SATUMA, based in the Kahuta Triangle in Islamabad, is also manufacturing UAV systems which are being used and deployed by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). All locally made UAV’s are 60-70 per cent cheaper than what is being doled out for this inferior system from Germany.

Some experts think in international systems, LUNA is not even considered to be a military system and is not used in the theater of war because of its inferior technology. The international market is full of better UAV systems that are more suited to military roles.

In its on-going evaluation, however, the GHQ is also considering the French, American and a German Tactical Military UAV systems although none of which have been called for in-country trials. The French UAV system was shown to the ex-VCGS and now Corps Commander Karachi, during an all expense paid trip to France in June 2004.

The essence of a good deal is ”Comparative Trials” and competition between various suppliers. The spirit of competition and procedure dictates that in case the Army needs to select a UAV it must invite at least three suppliers and have a comparison test and trials in Pakistan. The equipment which gives the best result during trials and also the best price at the end of the day should be selected.

Unfortunately, none of these aspects have been followed in the German case thereby violating the laid procedures of procurement.

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