We have a chicken-and-egg situation. If not for constant hard-currency outflows, I would argue our helicopter fleets would be larger across the board. So the lack of budget to constantly fund imports probably impacted our ability to field desired or optimal numbers.Have you looked at the outlay, the risk where will you procure engines from and who will supply avionics? You have laid down a requirement of 200 units. With different variants the-dezigns will have to differ even though the base may be the-same.
Not only that, but the PAA never even got to use the helicopter it considered an optimal workhorse -- i.e., UH-60. You need a design that fulfills 80% of your requirements in order to build a large fleet around it (or else you end up with too many of a specialist type). So, if you're designing an in-house project to build your workhorse, then chances are, you'll have enough of a requirement to support it.
It isn't only a question of how much it costs, but where that money is going. If you're spending on local R&D to develop the inputs, then you're spending on education, high-tech capacity (for development, test and integration work), industries that result in critical inputs, and so on.Lastly having had no input into any design and venturing out on one's own without any building experience is asking for failure. Do we really have the 2-4 billion required to set up and mature a design. So it is not only time , finance and labour intensive project, it is a potentially high risk with high sink in costs. Even after all is-said and done we have a project 15 to 20 years down the line do you think we have the staying power to sustain the risk, the financial sink in costs.
Let's say the helicopter program fails, you would still have built a large high-tech capacity base to (1) recoup the costs by supporting other programs, especially in other countries that would like to use your IP and (2) reduce the cost of designing and developing a 'second go' of a system later.
This doesn't even account for indirect economic benefits, such as your eco-system venturing into self-funded initiatives. For example, the Pakistani company you asked to design and build composites can export those services abroad, further design its products, and grow. Moreover, these companies (plus their employees) pay taxes, so you get a feedback in additional funding power.
Collaboration can be an option, nothing wrong with that approach. However, I wouldn't dismiss taking a project in-house entirely if we execute it correctly.What I am proposing instead is a mulyinational collaboration along with Turkey and one other nation to share the cost and the risk and-get a sustainable project with the economy of scale as is warranted. We can have 30-40%work coming down our way and the cost could be down to 500 million to a billion $ but have a doable 0roject at the end of it.
The point of defence R&D isn't only to build weapons, but to build a country's economy so that it learns to export high-value goods and services. The more you take in-house, the more you control in terms of the work, and the more you benefit in terms of gaining the critical or high-value IP.
Working with Turkey is an option (they've invited us), but they're already working full-steam on their own engine, rotors, transmission, etc. These are all of the critical and most valuable parts of a helicopter. You are not going to get a 30-40% return in workshare unless you help foot the bill for developing those critical inputs. We didn't do that when Turkey actually could've considered an external supporter. They will not let us in on it now that their projects are actually progressing.
The invitation they have for us now (re: helicopters) is on parts manufacturing and maybe assembly and taking up 3rd party maintenance contracts. This is good, but this isn't going to help us take the necessary leap to becoming a proper industrial power. Rather, we need to be thinking like Turkey, i.e., take initiative.
"Cost" is a relative term. For someone tied to fiscal books, like a general, it's a zero-sum equation of "if I spend on R&D, I spend less on buying from China." For an economist or public policy expert, "cost" is an investment. The money you put into developing a helicopter is, in actuality, an investment in all of the key industries we need to transform Pakistan from a footnote or joke, to a power with respect and authority.You really seem to have taken up the cause of indegenization without considering the cost implications which we cannot-sustain, the lack of any prior experience,no upto date platform of any significance to take bearings from ( Like the F16s) and at least to me it screams failure ( or at least highly risky). I think we enter one such project in collaboration and then look at going our own way
We need vision and a "how to" mentality to build a country, not a "can't do this, no can't do that, no too expensive" finger-wagging mentality. If we left the nuke project to today's generation, we'd be smuggling hand-me-downs from China -- 100%. How we went from a nation that studied jig manufacturing, contributing to Atoms for Peace, and looking to build fighter planes in the 1950s to the status quo is astounding.