Pakistan has hired an Italian defense company to convert three Embraer Lineage 1000 regional jetliners into long-range maritime patrol aircraft for its Navy.
The contract with Leonardo involves the acquisition of two aircraft to join the single Lineage 1000 already in Pakistan, followed by the design, modification, installation and integration of an anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol package. The three planes will then be introduced into service as Sea Sultan patrol aircraft.
Follow-on contracts are expected to bring the total number of Sea Sultans to 10, replacing the country’s long-serving P-3C Orion fleet. Defense News learned in October that the Navy selected the Lineage 1000 to replace the fleet.
Under an additional contract, South Africa’s Paramount Group will handle the pre-conversion maintenance, repair and overhaul of the aircraft.
Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production, which handles acquisitions, did not reply to Defense News for comment.
Only Leonardo was shortlisted on a technical basis for the Lineage 1000 conversion. This was mainly on the basis of the Leonardo SeaSpray radar installed on the RAS 72 Sea Eagle aircraft and Sea King helicopters, and the trusted Italian-origin torpedo-release systems already installed on the Pakistan Navy’s anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and which would certainly be fitted to the Sea Sultan.
Leonardo also has a good relationship with Pakistan’s other military branches, supplying Grifo radars for Mirage III and F-7PG Fishcan fighters, delivering AW139 helicopters, and helping procure refurbished M109 self-propelled howitzers.