PAF NASTP Inauguration Report

PAF NASTP Inauguration Report

More and more countries are showing growing interest in increasing their capabilities in aerospace and especially the role of artificial intelligence in cyber security. They are in a race to achieve dominance in international relations. As they call AI the new nuclear power, many nations, including Pakistan, are aspiring to have it and excel with its dual usage, civilian and military. The Air Chief of Pakistan Air Force, Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, NI (M) has repeatedly described AI, as a disruptive technology, which he believes would affect nearly all aspects of national security, including diplomacy, intelligence, and defense. This report sheds light on progresses made in the realm of AI technologies, aerospace and cyber security.

The Prime Minister of Islamic Republic Pakistan Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the PAF NATIONAL AEROSPACE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Park (PAF NASTP) on 04 August, 2023. PAF NASTP is an establishment that fosters design, R&D, and innovation, to put Pakistan on the path to become one of the best aerospace, cyber and information technology clusters in the world.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu NI(M) received the Prime Minister of Pakistan on his arrival at the Nur Khan Air Base. General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff NI(M), federal ministers, and high-level civil and military officials were also present on the occasion.

A comprehensive brief was given by the Chief Project Director and CEO PAF NASTP Air Cdre Dr Liaquat Ullah Iqbal. He addressed the historical development of PAF’s organic capabilities in the Aerospace, Cyber, IT and AI domains.

It was highlighted that the planning and development of PAF NASTP is being carried out under the guidance and direction of the Chief of the Air Staff. Updates & operationalization of various techno parks across Pakistan under PAF NASTP were also discussed. After the address, the park was  formally inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Speaking as chief guest, PM Shahbaz Sharif described the initiative being spearheaded by the Chief of the Air Staff Pakistan Air Force, as a project of strategic national importance. It holds a great promise for Pakistan and valuable partners like Turkiye and China, fostering technological advancements and enhancing defense capabilities.

He further emphasized that “PAF NASTP is a highly promising project that will leverage the collective wisdom and contribute to kick-start Pakistan’s economy bringing it on a fast track towards progress,” as he inaugurated the first chapter of PAF NASTP called PAF NASTP Alpha at Rawalpindi near PAF Base Nur Khan. The project is equipped with state-of-the-art design, innovation, research and development centers which will provide ample opportunities for foreign investment in the country.

The highlight of the event was the inclusion of leading Turkish technology and defense industry companies including Baykar, Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) and Crypttech, established in PAF NATIONAL AEROSPACE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Park (PAF NASTP) which have all recently signed cooperation agreements. These companies have established joint Design and R&D Centers within PAF NASTP Alpha to undertake collaborative projects with the PAF NASTP Technology Divisions in the Aerospace, Cyber, IT and AI domains. The August house was informed that PAF NASTP under the patronage and support of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) will enable the information technology sector as one of the key domains for the economic revival initiative.

In his remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff Zaheer Ahmad Babar Sidhu, NI(M) expressed his gratitude to COAS General Syed Asim Munir for his support since assumption of the office.

The Air Chief said, “We live in a challenging time in the wake of ever evolving global and regional environment, where the world is in a transition. With the induction of new disruptive technologies, the scenario of warfare has taken a new turn involving new dimensions and Pakistan has to catch up.”

He said that the pace of advancing technologies in the contemporary world continued to alter the character of warfare rapidly. Such drastic changes had profoundly affected the traditional concepts of national security and defence, with economy as the prime focus.

“To address these challenges, the leadership of the country had, for the first time envisioned the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a platform to bridge the gaps in the national framework and boost the economy, to create desired linkages and  opportunities to in order to bring foreign direct investment into Pakistan”

 He expressed his gratitude to the PM and the Army Chief for supporting the PAF NASTP concept. “PAF NASTP is a major milestone, with tremendous potential. PAF NASTP prime focus is development of state of the art design centers and linkages to achieve design level capabilities and become an OEM, alongside growth of the Aerospace & IT Industry by supporting the private sector and support highly talented youth in the design, R&D as well as startup endeavours by establishing state of the art vertical incubators for Aerospace and IT industries.”

Elaborating on different phases of the project, CAS, PAF informed guests regarding various under-development techno parks and design centers, including the first of its kind Aerospace Design & Innovation Center (ADIC), to come up in the region in a 2-3 months time frame.

 “The magnitude, diversity and national significance of PAF NASTP is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan. This mega enterprise will strengthen local industries and contribute significantly to the national economy,” he said.

Highlighting the core objectives, the Air Chief said that PAF NASTP held great potential to offer new opportunities for collaboration with elements of the PAF NASTP ecosystem. The project possessed the potential to transform the national landscape with design, research and development. Highlighting the defined parameters of PAF NASTP for ease of doing business, the Air Chief said that gateways had opened for collaboration with friendly countries to develop meaningful partnerships through Special Technology Zones (STZ) status. He expressed his gratitude for his team for the untiring efforts to make PAF NASTP operational in a short span of time.

PAF NASTP will foster research, development and innovation in the fields of aviation, space, cyber, IT, AI and computing to ensure social, economic, technological and scientific dividends for Pakistan and its valuable partners. The project will serve as a ‘bulwark’ to boost the independent economy alongside flourishing the unprecedented technological advancements in the country.