China will sell eight submarines to Pakistan, with four of them being built in Karachi under a technology transfer agreement, according to a media report on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s defence production minister Rana Tanveer Hussain said during the inauguration of the Defence Export Promotion Organisation display centre in Islamabad on Tuesday that the deal for the submarines had been finalised.
The construction of the eight submarines will simultaneously begin in Pakistan and China and four of them will be built in Karachi, Hussain was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
China will transfer technology to Pakistan for submarine construction, he said.
Hussain did not identify the class of submarines being purchased from China but reports have suggested the deal is for Yuan-class Type 041 diesel-electric submarines equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems.
The minister did not specify when the construction would begin but said it would happen soon. A training centre will also be set up in Karachi, he added.
The Chinese vessels will augment Pakistan’s submarine fleet comprising three Agosta 90-B submarines and two ageing Agosta-70 submarines.
One of the three Agosta 90-Bs was assembled in the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works and commissioned in 2008. The other two were overhauled and retrofitted with AIP systems in Pakistan in 2011.
The Dawn quoted unnamed naval officials as saying that Pakistan needs more submarines to “address force imbalance with India”, which is increasing and modernising its submarine fleet.
Pakistan had earlier explored the option of buying submarines from France and Germany but those deals did not materialise.