China Confirms Export of 8 Submarines to Pakistan
China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has confirmed it will deliver eight submarines to Pakistan, China People's Daily reported.
The corporation has reportedly held a meeting to discuss and set the details of the arrangements. The move aims to continue the process of spirit started by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Belt and Road Construction Network Symposium, Hu Wenming, chairman of the corporation, said according to the Daily Times.
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Back in April, Reuters reported that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the deal dubbed as "one of China's largest overseas weapon sales once it is signed." The agreement is estimated to cost between $4 billion and $5 billion, the International News reported.
Half of the submarines will allegedly be built at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW), while the other half will be assembled in China.
Experts speculate that the new submarine will be a lighter export version of the People Liberation Army Navy's Type 039 and Type 041 Yuan-class conventional attack submarine, without the AIP system, which is believed to be obtained independently, Daily Pakistan noted.
The first submarine will reportedly be delivered in 2022, and another three by the end of 2023, according to the Chief Project Director of the program as reported by Quwa. The remaining batch from KSEW will be delivered by the end of 2018.
Over the years, both countries have strengthened military cooperation. "China and Pakistan are neighbors of traditional friendship with close cooperation in various fields. The normal cooperation between the two sides in the field of military industry and trade is in line with their respective international commitment," Hua Chunying, the country's foreign ministry spokesperson, said about the deal last year.
Daily Pakistan reported that the Pakistan Navy has been continuously upgrading its undersea warfare capabilities. Earlier this year, Turkish state-owned contractor STM won in a bid for the upgrade of three Agosta 90-B class (or Khalid-class) diesel-electric attack submarines equipped with air-independent propulsion systems.