Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT), the largest armoured vehicle manufacturer in Pakistan, is exhibiting a wide variety of hardware at the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) currently underway in Karachi, with products ranging from armoured sedans to main battle tanks.
HIT’s main products are main battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers. The company presently produces several variants of the indigenous Mohafiz wheeled internal security vehicle, which was developed in 2000. It is built with both aluminium and steel bodies that protect occupants from small arms fire up to 7.62 mm in calibre. The drivetrain is based on those of commercial vehicles. The Mohafiz series can be fitted with manned and remote controlled gun turrets on the roof.
The Mohafiz is aimed at military and police use and is available for export. So far, more than 300 have been produced, including 16 for Iraq. HIT is working on upgrades, such as improvised explosive device (IED) jammers and Kevlar blanket armour for additional protection.
Qasim Ijaz Cheema, Cost Accountant at HIT, said there is lots of interest in the Mohafiz vehicles, especially from Nigeria, South Africa and North Korea.
With regard to armoured personnel carriers, HIT manufactured the tracked M113 and currently produces new variants, including the Talha and Saad. The latter features a 408 hp diesel engine for a greater top speed of 75 km/h – around 150 of these have been built. A wide variety of Talha and Saad variants have been produced, including missile and armoured recovery models.
HIT is also on the cusp of producing ten ton Chinese Beiben trucks for the Pakistan military and commercial customers. The Beiben truck is currently being trialled by the Pakistan Army while the civil version is being trialled by the National Logistics Cell. If trials are successful, full-scale production will begin for the Pakistan Army.
Tank production is an important part of HIT’s activities, with the company producing the Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar main battle tanks. The Al-Khalid is based on the Norinco Type 90-II main battle tank. It was originally meant to be license built at HIT, but design improvements made for the Pakistan Army resulted in the Al Khalid. It is now being jointly marketed by China and Pakistan following an agreement signed at IDEAS.
So far, around 300 Al Khalids have been produced. Armament includes a 125 mm smoothbore gun, coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and a 12.7 mm machine gun for engaging ground and aerial targets. The Al-Khalid can engage targets while it is stationary or moving. The tank is powered by a Ukrainian 6TDF diesel engine developing 1 200 hp, for a top speed of more than 70 km/h.
HIT also produces the Al Zarrar tank, with 500 built for the Pakistan Army. This features a 125 mm smoothbore main gun and 7.62 and 12.7 mm machineguns. It is an upgraded variant of the Chinese Type 59 main battle tank and features improved armament, protection and fire control systems.
The company also produces bullet-proof vests and jackets and bullet-proof sedans, with a Toyota Altis on display at IDEAS. Cheema said HIT’s bullet-proof vests were recently sent to the United States for testing, as they are lighter than what the Americans already have and that the company is awaiting feedback. He added that more than 100 bullet-proof sedans have been built for VVIPs and other customers.
Apart from manufacturing vehicles, a large part of HIT’s activities involve the overhaul and upgrade of the Pakistan Army’s armoured vehicles.
Cheema said that more than 10 000 people are employed at HIT. The state-owned company receives funding from the military for defence and security vehicles while it uses its own funds for commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles are manufactured when there is excess capacity, as the company’s primary responsibility is to the Pakistani military.
Cheema told defenceWeb that Initially HIT was inward-looking but in the last two to three years the company was focusing more on export, especially to emerging markets like Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Cheema said the low cost of HIT’s products was a key factor in their success, as well as the company’s after-sales support. So far, HIT has exported its products to Iraq, Bahrain and Sri Lanka.