The Turkish defence contractor Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik A.Ş. (STM) is planning to initiate sea trials for the Pakistan Navy’s (PN) first upgraded Agosta 90B submarine – PNS/M Hamza – in early 2020.
In a recent interview with Defence Turkey, STM’s General Manager, Murat İkinci, said that the company plans to conclude the PNS/M Hamza’s tests and deliver the submarine to the PN by the end of 2020. The second upgraded submarine, PNS/M Khalid, is scheduled to follow in 2021.
Pakistan did not yet sign the contract for upgrading the third submarine, though STM expects it will ink a deal in this regard soon, as per the Daily Sabah.
Pakistan awarded STM with the contract to upgrade the Agosta 90B submarines, which are equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems, in 2016.
Under a program valued at $350 million US, STM was tasked with selecting a new electronics suite for the PN’s submarines, and to implement the upgrade at Karachi Shipyards & Engineering Works (KSEW).
The first upgraded submarine was scheduled for delivery in 2020, with the remaining two slated to follow the following year at a pace of one-per-year – i.e., conclude by 2023-2024.
The upgrade is comprehensive in terms of the submarine’s sensor and electronics suite. It will incorporate a new optronic mast and periscope, pulse-Doppler radar, electronics support measures (ESM) system, an integrated sonar system, and torpedo countermeasures system, among others.
The Agosta 90B upgrade program was the second major naval contract Pakistan awarded to Turkey, with the first being the purchase of a 17,000-ton fleet tanker (i.e., PNS Moawin). In 2018, Pakistan inked a $1.5 billion US deal for four customized MILGEM corvettes/light frigates.
The PN ordered the three Agosta 90B submarines from DCNS (Naval Group) in 1994. The first submarine, PNS/M Khalid, was inducted in 1999, with the remaining two vessels, i.e., PNS/M Saad and PNS/Hamza, following in 2002 and 2006, respectively.
Notes & Comments:
The Agosta 90B upgrade is the starting point of the PN’s sub-surface fleet recapitalization and expansion efforts, with the latter kicking off with the induction of four new Hangor-class AIP submarines from China by 2023, and another four by 2028 (with the latter being built locally by KSEW). The Hangor-class is likely a variant of the S26 manufactured by China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC).
The PN was also seeking a next-generation miniature diesel-electric submarine (SSK) to supplant its aging MG110s. STM is hoping to secure the design contract for the submarine, and it submitted a scale model of its proposal to the PN in February 2019.
However, it is unclear if the PN opted with STM’s proposal, or if it is approaching the program from a different angle. In any case, the Ministry of Defence Production’s disclosures for 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 had listed the development and construction of a new mini-SSK as a goal.
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