Procurement: Pakistani Technology Thieves Still At It


August 31, 2009: Pakistan has again been accused of stealing military technology. In this case, the U.S. accused Pakistan of modifying Harpoon anti-ship missiles (received in the late 1980s), to attack land targets. The 1,200 pound Harpoon has a 487 pound warhead and a range of 220 kilometers. It approaches the target low, at about 860 kilometers an hour. GPS gets the missile to the general vicinity of the target, then radar takes over to identify and hit the target. The Harpoon has successful combat experience going back two decades. Most Indian warships (corvettes and frigates) are small enough to be destroyed by one Harpoon. The modified Harpoons can hit land targets like air defense radars or headquarters.

Meanwhile, Pakistan developed its own cruise missile (Barbur), which was apparently a copy of the Tomahawk (several of which had crashed on Pakistani territory during a 1998 American attack on Taliban camps in Afghanistan.) The Barbur was first tested in 2005.

The Tomahawk was not terribly high tech, and easy for the Pakistanis to copy. GPS made it easier to replace the earlier (and only high tech aspect of the missile) terrain following guidance system. Barbur is a 1.5 ton, 22 foot long missile has a range of 500 kilometers. It appears to carry a 500 pound warhead, and the Pakistanis are working on a nuclear weapon that would fit in Barbur.

In the past, Pakistan has illegally passed F-16 technology on to China, and stole much of its nuclear fuel technology from European firms that Pakistani engineers work for. The first known computer virus, the "Brain Virus" was written by Pakistani programmers in 1986. "Brain" was created to help protect software a Pakistani firm was selling, but was being widely pirated by potential buyers in Pakistan. Alas, the Brain Virus got out of control, and the rest is history.

This pattern of theft is a product of Pakistani culture, which is one of the most corrupt in the region. The corruption has crippled the Pakistani economy, and all the technology theft can't make up for that. Pakistan denies all the theft allegations, but what else would they do?