The programme of (submarine technology transfer) Agosta class submarine, envisages a very high degree of transfer-of-technology, which is bound to benefit the local industry in improving our indigenous capability of building air-independent propulsion, which is a viable substitute of nuclear propulsion….—Rear Admiral Gulzaman Malik, Commander of Submarine Service Force, 1999, The Submarines Service Force (SSF) is the major command and aggressive command of Pakistan Navy, with primary mission including the commencing of peaceful engagement, surveillance and intelligence management, special operations, precision strikes, battle group operations, and the control of Pakistan’s border seas. The Submarine command also takes responsibility to protect country’s sea lanes of communication as well as to protect the economical interests, foreign trade and development of the country.
In mid-2006, the Navy announced its requirement of three new fast-attack submarines to replace the two Agosta-70 submarines and rebuild its submarine fleet— after retiring the four Daphne Class. Immediately, the French defence consortium, the DCN, offered its latest export design— the Marlin class submarine— which is based on the Scorpène class submarine, but also uses technology from the Barracuda nuclear attack submarine. However, the Navy chose the Type 214 submarine, during the “IDEAS 2008 exhibition”, the HDW director Walter Freitag told the media that: “The commercial contract has been finalized up to 95%. The first submarine would be delivered to the Pakistan Navy in 64 months after signing of the contract while the rest would be completed successively in 12 months”. However in 2009, it was reported that the Navy had cancelled its plans with HDW, the German government adjourn the deal further deliberation leading the Navy to cancel the contract with HDW while the German government seemed not-interested to transfer the submarine technology to Pakistan. However, the German government insisted that “a final decision should be made soon”. In 2012, an undisclosed navy officials confirmed to media and news channels that the plan of acquiring German submarines has been scrapped, dismissed as the Navy is no longer interested in the German submarines. Instead, the Navy has stepped into build the nation’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine, which will be built by the Navy’s PNEC nuclear engineers, assisted by the civilian PAEC‘s nuclear engineers and scientists.
The X-Craft submarines are charged with carrying out the mine laying, torpedo attacks, frogman operations and commando landing, roughly for special forces operations. Three submarines of this class are operated by the Navy. In 1985, the Italian Navy signed an understanding memorandum with the Navy and assisted the Navy to locally built these midget submarines. The Italian defence contractor, the COSMOS, supervised the first construction of the submarine while other two were built by Pakistan.
All of the Navy’s submarines have been equipped with Anti-ship missile (AShM) which can be fired while submerged. The three submarines, the Khalid class, are equipped and capable of firing Exocet missiles, while the older Agosta 70A submarines have been equipped with United States Harpoon missiles. The PNS Hamza submarine has an AIP reactor, containing the MESMA Air Independent Propulsion system, while the PNS Khalid and PNS Saad were upgraded with the same MESMA AIP reactor system. The Navy also plans to integrate the Boeing Harpoon Block-II missile on to its Agosta-90B submarines; and the Agosta-90Bs are capable of firing Black Shark torpedo, an Italian made naval variant.
Since 2001, the Navy has been seeking to enhance its strategic strike and precision capability by developing naval variants of the Babur land attack cruise missile (LACM). The Babur LACM has a range of 700 km and is capable of using both conventional and nuclear warheads. Future developments of LACM include capability of being launched from submarines, surface combatants and aircraft.