Turkish state-owned defense contractor Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ş. (STM) has won a contract for the mid-life upgrade of the second of three Agosta 90B-class (aka Khalid-class) diesel-electric attack submarines equipped with air-independent propulsion systems, currently in service with the Pakistan Navy.
The contract was signed in Pakistan by senior representatives of the Pakistan Ministry of Defense Production and STM last month, according to a company statement. Pakistan selected STM over French shipbuilder Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS), the original designer and producer of the Agosta 90B-class, in a competitive bidding process in June 2016.
“At the conclusion of the bidding process, STM’s offer was found to be commercially and technically superior, and the company was consequently selected as the prime contractor by Pakistan’s Ministry of Defense Production,” the company statement reads. The original June 2016 contract only covered the retrofitting of the first Agosta 90B sub, the PNS Khalid, slated for delivery in 2020.
The second Agosta 90B boat, like the first-of-class PNS Khalid, will be upgraded at the Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) in Karachi. “The modernization works will include the replacement of the submarine’s entire sonar suite, periscope systems, command and control system, radar and electronic support systems. HAVELSAN- [Turkey’s state-controlled military software company] and ASELSAN [Turkish defense contractor]-made systems will also be exported as part of the project,” according to STM.
Among other things, the upgrade includes the installation of a SharpEye low probability-of-intercept (LPI) radar system aboard the PNS Saad. Additionally, “[u]nder the project, STM will make modifications on the pressure hull, the most critical structure in a submarine, by carrying out system-to-system and platform-to-system integrations for various systems, to be provided by local and foreign companies.”
The PNS Saad is expected to be returned to service within 12 months following the delivery of the PNS Khalid. The upgrade of all three subs–should a third contract between the Ministry of Defense Production and STM be signed—will likely be finished by the end of 2022.
The three Agosta 90B attack submarines were inducted into service with the Pakistan Navy between 1999 and 2008. The first-of-class PNS Khalid was built by DCNS in France, while the second boat of the class, PNS Saad, was assembled by KSEW from submarine modules delivery by DCNS. The third attack submarine, PNS Hamza, was built locally in Karachi.
Next to French-built Exocet anti-ship missiles, the upgraded Agosta 90B boats will purportedly also be armed with the nuclear-capable Babur-3 submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM), currently under development.