As nations now battle for technological and economic superiority in the same way that they used to struggle for military superiority, the Pakistan Air Force has embarked on a radical new mission: producing consumer electronics, including an e-reader seen above and an iPad-aping tablet computer.
The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) is usually home to weapons and aircraft manufacturing, but in league with Hong-Kong-based Innavtek, PAC engineers have started limited production of a simple laptop, an e-reader, and an Android tablet with distinct Cupertino design overtones. The inexpensive creations are being produced in batches of a few hundred and have already shown up on store shelves in nearby Rawalpindi; company officials say up to a thousand units per day can be made.
Although neither the Pakistani military nor the government have been explicit about the aims of the program, there are two general ideas about why the military would want to get into such an unusual line of business. The first issue is one of national pride: some see the computers as a way for Pakistan to promote its technical skills, especially in the face of mortal enemy India's continuing dominance in the field.
Second, a popular and profitable consumer product could serve as something of a fundraiser for the military. Pakistan's civilian governments are rarely stable or flush with cash, and over time various branches of the armed forces have gone into other lucrative businesses: agriculture, real estate, even the production of a breakfast cereal.
It may not quite be that old quip about the Air Force having a bake sale, but the production of consumer computers is definitely a new front in the battle for the tech market.
Photo Credit: paksoldiers.com
(Hat tip to Baber K. Khan (The true expression of freedom is 4x4)!)