On 08 March 2019, Pakistan signed a deal with Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret A.Ş. (STM), a state-owned Turkish defence contractor, to add torpedo countermeasures and acoustic measurement sensors to the Pakistan Navy’s (PN) Agosta 90B submarine upgrade program (Anadolu Agency).
This expands the PN’s Agosta 90B upgrade program, which will already see the PN’s first air-independent propulsion (AIP)-equipped submarines equipped with new optronic masts, periscopes, radars, electronic intelligence (ELINT) and electronic support measures (ESM), sonars, and command-and-control system.
Signed as a $350 million US contract in 2016, the upgrade is evidently extensive, and it is poised to bring the PN’s Agosta 90B up to modern electronic standards (i.e., comparable to the Type 214 and Scorpene).
Thus far, two of the three Agosta 90Bs are slotted for the upgrade, but STM expected to sign the contract for the third ship during the 2018 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar.
However, it is unclear if the upgrade will also include a structural upgrade. It may not be necessary, but a program of this scope will certainly require the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Naval Group (i.e., DCNS) involved. Naval Group is not involved at this stage, having lost the submarine upgrade bid to STM in 2016, with STM claiming its bid was “technically and commercially superior.”
As outlined in an earlier Quwa Premium article, STM is relying on multiple third-party vendors – Turkish, British, European, and South African – to equip Pakistan’s Agosta 90B submarines.
These vendors include:
- Hensoldt Optronics South Africa
- Kelvin Hughes
- Atlas Elektronik
Moreover, the first upgraded submarine – i.e., PNS Khalid – is scheduled for delivery in 2020, the next two are to follow within one year of other, i.e., by the mid-2020s. The first four Hangor AIP submarines are to join the PN by the mid-2020s as well, providing the PN sub-surface fleet with a capability boost.
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