In conjunction with talks for Ada-class corvettes and T-129 attack helicopters, Pakistan is in discussions with Turkey to upgrade the Pakistan Navy’s three Agosta 90B (Khalid-class) air-independent propulsion (AIP) powered submarines. The news was confirmed by the Turkish defence minister, Fikri Işık, who made an official visit to Pakistan on Friday. To Milliyet, Defence Minister Işık said he hopes a deal would be signed by the end of June.
Comment and Analysis
Specific details are non-existent, but given the fact that Turkey is familiar with German submarine designs and not the French ones that Pakistan uses, it is likely the upgrade in question is centered upon on-board electronics. For example, Havelsan’s next-generation submarine combat management system could be considered for the Agosta 90B (and potentially even Pakistan’s forthcoming submarines from China).
An interesting note. In 2015, when Pakistan likely reached the advanced stages of talks with China for new submarines, Defense News learned that Turkey was willing to offer Type 209/1200 diesel-electric submarines to help the Pakistan supplement its modernization program. At the time, the Pakistan Navy determined that it would suffer from a sudden shortfall of submarines, especially with the retirement of the Agosta 70s (and Daphne SSKs before it), hence it was seeking used submarines.
If we could go a step further, a paired down Type 209 built in Turkey could also be an option (i.e. without AIP). Using Indonesia’s purchase of three new Type 209/1400 from South Korea, each new Type 209 cost around $366 million U.S. This is just loose speculation on our part, but still a plausible idea.