In the face of mounting economic difficulties, Pakistan has remained resolute in its pursuit of strengthening its defense capabilities. This determination is driven by historical tensions with neighboring nations and the need to ensure stability within its borders. While the global economy faces turbulence, Pakistan’s commitment to enhancing its military prowess has taken center stage. GlobalData’s latest report, “Pakistan’s Defense Market Size and Trends, Budget Allocation, Regulations, Key Acquisitions, Competitive Landscape and Forecast, 2023-28,” reveals a compelling forecast – Pakistan’s defense budget is poised to reach $10 billion by 2028.
A Steady Growth Trajectory
Despite a challenging economic environment, Pakistan’s defense budget has displayed remarkable resilience. In 2022, it experienced a sharp decline, with a 14% annual growth rate reduction. However, in 2023, it rebounded, surging from $7.8 billion to $8.3 billion. This rebound allows Pakistan to maintain a positive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.5% over the period from 2019 to 2023.
Historical Underpinnings of Defense Investment
Pakistan’s defense investments have long been influenced by the imperatives of safeguarding its borders and preserving internal stability. The nation’s tumultuous relationships with neighboring countries and regional separatist movements have played pivotal roles in shaping its defense policies. These factors continue to drive Pakistan’s defense budget, propelling it towards the projected $10 billion mark by 2028.
Akash Pratim Debbarma, aerospace and defense analyst at GlobalData, highlights Pakistan’s unwavering commitment, saying, “Despite facing a severe economic crisis, Pakistan did not cut back its defense budget in 2023, which indicates the country’s emphasis on strengthening its defense capabilities and signifies its desire to ensure stability and security within its borders and fostering tranquility in the region. The projected growth in the defense budget showcases its intent to responsibly allocate resources to meet the needs of its armed forces.”
A Focus on Aerospace Modernization
As Pakistan charts its path towards modernization, a significant emphasis lies on bolstering its military fixed-wing aircraft capabilities. GlobalData estimates that Pakistan is poised to allocate a cumulative $3.6 billion between 2023 and 2033 for the procurement of various categories of military fixed-wing aircraft. This ambitious undertaking includes planned acquisitions such as the FC-31, J-10C, PAC PF-X, and JF-17 Block-3 multi-role aircraft, which are set to play pivotal roles in shaping Pakistan’s aerial capabilities.
Strategic Partnerships and Indigenous Innovation
Pakistan’s pursuit of modernization is not a solitary endeavor. Through strategic partnerships with China, the nation has been able to access advanced weaponry and technologies while nurturing its indigenous defense manufacturing capabilities. In the face of numerous challenges, Pakistan is working to blend external collaboration with internal innovation, aiming to cultivate a robust domestic defense industry landscape. Initiatives like IDEAS 2024, scheduled to be held in Karachi in 2024, are designed to promote local defense companies and offer opportunities to showcase their products to international markets.
The Balancing Act
GlobalData’s analysis of Pakistan’s equipment inventory reveals that the breakdown in the peace process with India has compelled Pakistan to maintain a robust defense posture and increase defense spending. Key areas of military procurement include combat aircraft, missile systems, submarines, and naval vessels, with the majority of the defense budget allocated to the services and a smaller portion dedicated to defense administration.