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.

Franz-Stefan Gady
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.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

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.