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China Confirms Export of 8 Submarines to Pakistan

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Asia Defense

China Confirms Export of 8 Submarines to Pakistan

Beijing recently confirmed the existence of a defense deal with Islamabad over the export of eight submarines.

China Confirms Export of 8 Submarines to Pakistan
Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ CRS

The China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) has for the first time officially confirmed a project to provide the Pakistan Navy with eight modified diesel-electric attack submarines, the People’s Daily Online reports.  The chairman of CSIC, Hu Wenming, confirmed the deal during a press conference on October 12.

The announcement follows a similar statement that was made by the head of the Pakistan Navy’s next-generation submarine program to the Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defense during the committee’s visit to Naval Headquarters in Islamabad on August 26.

Furthermore, in April this year a senior Pakistan Navy official also stated that Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) had secured a contract to produce four of the eight submarines, which will be fitted with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems.

Hu Wenming also confirmed that CSIC will set up a training center in Karachi. It remains unclear whether a contract has been signed by both parties and the exact cost of the submarine acquisition program for the Pakistan Navy. The total cost is estimated at $4 to $5 billion. Beijing is expected to extend a long term loan to Islamabad at a low interest rate.

The first four subs are expected to be delivered by the end of 2023; the remaining four will be assembled in Karachi by 2028. Hu Wenming, however, did not reveal the submarine type to be sold to the Pakistan Navy.

As I reported elsewhere (See: “Confirmed: Pakistan Will Buy Eight Chinese Subs”), there were a number of conflicting reports about a China-Pakistan submarine deal over the past two years:

[T]he Wuhan-based China State Shipbuilding Industrial Corp (CSIC) supposedly had already signed a contract in April 2011 to deliver six Type 032 Qing-class conventional attack submarines by 2016/2017. (…) [O]ther media sources report that Islamabad will build submarines under license based on the Qing-class vessels displacing 3,000 tons: “Pakistan will also build two types of submarines with Chinese assistance: the Project S-26 and Project S-30. The vessels are to be built at the Submarine Rebuild Complex (SRC) facility being developed at Ormara, west of Karachi.”

As I noted elsewhere (See: “China to Supply Pakistan With 8 New Stealth Attack Submarines”):

The majority of analysts speculate that the new submarine will be a lighter export version of the People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s Type 039 and Type 041 Yuan-class conventional attack submarine, excluding the sub’s AIP system, which might be procured independently.

The scaled-down 2,300-ton (submerged) export version is designated S20. The smaller size implies that the sub will have a reduced operating range in comparison to the larger Type 039 and 041 Yuanclass.