China to supply Pakistan with eight new attack submarines

The Chinese government will supply eight modified diesel-electric attack submarines to Pakistan Navy by the year 2028.


The head of Pakistan’s next-generation submarine programme and senior naval officials briefed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence on August 26 regarding the new development.

The high-level statement in front of the committee members provides official confirmation, indicating that the programme is moving ahead, although it is unclear whether a contract has been signed. In April, a senior Pakistan Navy official announced that Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) had secured a contract to produce four of the eight submarines, which will be fitted with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems.

The defence deal is valued at $4 to $5 billion and China is expected to extend a long term loan to Pakistan at a low interest rate. It has not officially been confirmed what type of submarines will be supplied to the Pakistan Navy by the China Shipbuilding Trading Company (CSTC) and there has been considerable speculation on the subject in the past.

Analysts speculate that the new submarines will be lighter export versions of the People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s Type 039 and Type 041 Yuan-class conventional attack submarines.

The first four submarines are expected to be delivered by the end of 2023 while the remaining four will be assembled in Karachi by 2028. These are expected to form the the sea-based arm of Pakistan’s burgeoning nuclear second-strike triad.