The indigenous submarine development project in Pakistan has reached another milestone. The keel laying of the first HANGOR-class submarine (5th overall) and the steel cutting of the second submarine (6th overall) were carried out at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KS&EW) on December 24, 2022.
The defense agreement between Pakistan and China included the development of 08 x HANGOR-class Submarines including four submarines under construction at Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group (WSIG) in China and the remaining four being built at KS&EW under the Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreement. The construction work of the first submarine to be made at KS&EW Pakistan commenced on Dec 21 and now the Keel Laying is being laid which is a major milestone in the history of any naval vessel being constructed. Concurrently, construction work on the subsequent submarine has started with its Steel Cutting at the same shipyard.
HANGOR-class Submarine is capable to undertake a variety of missions as per operational dictates. The submarine possesses advanced stealth features and is fitted with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors to operate under a multi-threat environment and can engage targets at stand-off ranges.
On the occasion, the honorable Chief Guest expressed that it is a matter of great pride to witness the Keel Laying and Steel Cutting of two submarines concurrently. He added that Pakistan Navy is aware of the evolving Geo-strategic situation in our region and will continue to develop naval potential, improve shipbuilding infrastructure and equip platforms with advanced weapons/ sensors to counter traditional as well as asymmetric threats. The Admiral showed confidence that these submarines will play a leading role in catering to the operational needs of the Pakistan Navy.
Earlier the distinguished Rep of M/s China Shipbuilding Offshore Company (CSOC) expressed his gratitude for the ceremony. He added that his company will ensure seamless provision of all resources/ support for the smooth construction of submarines in Pakistan. He further said that the Pak-China friendship is deeply rooted and shares common objectives.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of M/s CSOC (China) and other high-ranking officials including distinguished guests from the Embassy of China, Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP), Pakistan Navy (PN), and KS&EW.
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Naval News comments on Hangor-class project:
The Hangor-class submarines are an export variant of the PLAN’s Type 039A/041 Yuan-class submarines. Pakistan accepted the purchase of eight submarines from China in April 2015. According to the agreement, four of the submarines will be built in Pakistan’s KSEW at the same time as the other four would be produced in China.
The eight boats are scheduled to be delivered between 2022 and 2028. The Chief Director of the program revealed in August 2016 that the first four of these submarines will be delivered in 2022-2023, with the final four following in 2028.
The Pakistan Navy does not offer any details about the Hangor-class submarines’ subsystems or specific weapon systems. The Stirling AIP system is used in China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company’s (CSOC) S26 design, on which many experts assume the Hangor is based, but Pakistani officials have not publicly revealed the propulsion system of Hangor-class subs.
According to the Pakistani defense blog Quwa, Hangor-class submarines will be 76 meters long and have a displacement of 2800 tons, making them slightly shorter but heavier than the original S26 design.
Currently, PN operates three Agosta 90B air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines and two Agosta 70 diesel-electric submarines. Three Agosta 90B subs have been undergoing a mid-life upgrade under a contract signed in 2016 with the Turkish STM Company as the prime contractor. STM delivered the first upgraded submarine, PNS Hamza, in 2020. The scope of modernization is the replacement of the Fire Control System, Sonar Suite, Electronic Warfare System, Radar, and Periscope System (Navigation and Assault).
The eight Hangor Class submarines will significantly strengthen the Pakistan Navy. Pakistan is likely to improve its A2/AD capabilities in the region after the project is completed. Though no official confirmation has been made on the weapon systems, it is clear that Pakistan would obtain deep strike capability if the Hangor-class submarines were outfitted with Babur-3 SLCMs.