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New Pakistan Navy Chief Outlines Procurement Plans

In an interview with China’s Global Times, the new Pakistan Navy (PN) Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi, outlined the PN’s current procurement roadmap.

In addition to the armaments already in its pipeline – including four Type 054A/P multi-role frigates, eight Hangor-class submarines, and drones from China – the CNS revealed that the PN is also seeking “modern helicopters, corvettes and shallow-water attack submarines.”[1]

The CNS did not disclose the specific suppliers it is working with to acquire the above-mentioned systems, but the PN will likely start by talking to its existing partners in China, Turkey, and Europe.

New Procurement Goals

It is unclear whether the current CNS’ revelations differ from the plans of the previous leadership. Some of the new information – such as helicopters and shallow-water attack submarines (SWATS) – is an evident continuation of priorities dating back to 2015, but “corvettes” may imply changes.

Modern Helicopters

In October 2020, the previous CNS, Admiral Zafar Mahmoud Abbasi, announced that the PN is expanding its fleet of “major surface vessels” to 20 ships. The PN likely defines “major surface vessels” as multi-role ships capable of anti-ship warfare (AShW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and anti-air warfare (AAW)…

Based on these criteria, the PN would operate 14 “major surface vessels” by 2025 – i.e., four Type 054A/Ps, four MILGEMs, two Yarmouk-class corvettes, and four F-22P frigates. However, other than the five Z-9EC ASW helicopters it acquired with the F-22Ps, the PN’s rotary wing cannot support an enlarged fleet.

The insufficiency of the PN rotary wing fleet stems from two main issues: First, the majority of its current helicopters are either technologically out-of-date or three-plus decades old. Second, the PN lacks enough helicopters to support even a 14-strong major surface vessel fleet, much less a 20-plus force.

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[1] Liu Xuanzun and Guo Yuandan. “Pakistani, Chinese navies play important roles in maintaining maritime order of Indian Ocean: Exclusive with Pakistan Navy chief.” Global Times. 04 February 2021. URL: