Pakistan will acquire at least eight attack submarines from Beijing in what is being described as the largest ever arms export deal for China.
State-run media in Pakistan including Radio Pakistan has reported that the $5 billion dollar deal has been detailed by senior naval officers to the parliamentary committee that handles defence.
The report comes as India is grappling with the fiasco of details of its new Scorpene submarines being leaked in over 20,000 pages. The Scorpenes, designed by a French shipbuilder, DCNS, are being made in Mumbai at a cost of $3.5 billion. An Australian newspaper published excerpts that showed combat and crucial other details of the Scorpenes had been made available. The articles redacted sensitive information, but made the point that one of the world’s largest defense projects has been compromised.
It has not officially been confirmed what type of submarines will be supplied to the Pakistan Navy by China.
Analysts suggest that the new submarines will be lighter export versions of the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) Type 039 and Type 041 Yuan-class conventional attack submarines.
The first four submarines are expected to be delivered by the end of 2023 while the remaining four will be assembled in Karachi by 2028.
China is Pakistan’s biggest supplier of military hardware.
India has a fleet of 13 ageing submarines, only half of which are operational at any time.