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Loaded Procurement Pipeline in Tow, The Pakistan Navy Rises (Part 1)
March 24, 2019
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Loaded Procurement Pipeline in Tow, The Pakistan Navy Rises (Part 1)

In 2015, we posed the question, “Is it Finally the Pakistan Navy’s Turn?”

The original article outlined the Pakistan Navy’s (PN) original procurement plans in the 2000s, which it had to shelve in the early 2010s, ostensibly due to Pakistan’s economic troubles at the time.

However, the PN was also constrained by the reality that its budget was the thinnest of Pakistan’s service arms, i.e., behind the Pakistan Army (PA) and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Thus, with any initiation of new procurement, the PN was expected to sit at the back of the priority chain.

The Pakistan Navy’s Future Plans in a Nutshell

It is unclear if that chain is still in place, but since 2015, the PN has slotted – and signed – a set of big-ticket contracts for naval assets from China, Turkey, and the Netherlands.

These include:

  • eight new Hangor-class submarines equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) (China);
  • four Type 054A/P multi-mission frigates (China);
  • four MILGEM corvettes and frigates (Turkey);
  • and two 1,900-ton offshore patrol vessels (OPV) (Netherlands).

Collectively, these procurements will not only recapitalize the PN’s fleet, but expand it across both surface and sub-surface domains. According to the PN Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, in a July/August 2018 interview, the PN intends to add new aviation assets.

These could include:

  • a new long-range maritime patrol (LRMP) aircraft to augment its existing P-3C LRMP;
  • an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) platform
  • and ‘modern multi-function helicopters.’

The list would indicate that the PN does not intend to rely on aging Alouette IIIs or refurbished Westland Sea King helicopters, nor is it undervaluing the need for a genuine successor to the P-3C.

In fact, the CNS clearly placed the P-3C – a LRMP – in a different category to the PN’s newly acquired ATR-72, which it classified as a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), i.e., differently.

However, besides high-profile procurements. The PN is also crafting a revamped auxiliary/support fleet, namely: a new 3,000-ton ocean survey vessel, a new submarine rescue-and-salvage vessel, and, possibly, an additional new tanker in the future to join the newly commissioned 17,000-ton PNS Moawin.

There is more at play than just accumulating assets. The PN has already built the foundation of a network-enabled warfare capability (developed with Turkey’s MilSOFT), but its far from reaching its potential. This will be realized in full as the PN inducts its new surface combatant and aviation assets.

In part-one, Quwa focuses on the PN’s forthcoming surface combatants. In part-two, we will discuss the PN’s aviation; in part-three, auxiliary/support, and network-enabled warfare efforts; and in part-four, submarines.

End of Excerpt.
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