Pakistan has finalized its long-negotiated submarine deal with China, with four to be built in China and four in Pakistan. Analysts believe the submarines will go a long way toward maintaining a credible conventional deterrent against India, and also largely secure the sea-based arm of Pakistan’s nuclear triad.
Minister for Defence Production Tanveer Hussain announced the news last week while opening a new exhibition center at the Defence Export Promotion Organization.
Construction is to be undertaken simultaneously in both countries, but Hussain did not say when construction would commence or what type had been selected.
Most analysts believe the subs will be the air independent propulsion (AIP) equipped variant of the S-20, which is an export development of China’s Type-039A/Type-041 class diesel-electric submarines.
Though Chinese submarine technology is reported to have improved considerably, Tom Waldwyn, research analyst in the Defence and Military Analysis Programme at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said, “the capabilities of Chinese submarines are not something which can be easily determined as it benefits countries on both sides to keep this a secret.
“The export version of the Type 039A, the S20, is believed to be AIP optional and should the Pakistanis opt for this capability it would give them greater operational flexibility through increased endurance. Other than being AIP optional, it is currently unclear what other differences there would be between a Chinese Navy Type 039A and an export version,” he said.