Pakistan Submarine Capabilities

Hangor (Daphne) Submarine

The Pakistan Navy operates a fleet of five diesel-electric submarines and three MG110 miniature submarines (SSI). [1] Although these vessels are currently based at Karachi, it is possible that in the future some may also be based at Port Ormara. [2] The nucleus of the fleet is comprised of two Agosta-70 boats and three modern Agosta-90B submarines, all of French design. Pakistan's third Agosta-90B, the S 139 Hamza, was constructed indigenously and features the DCNS MESMA (Module d'EnergieSous-Marin Autonome) air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. Pakistan began retrofitting the two earlier Agosta-90B vessels with the MESMA AIP propulsion system when they underwent overhaul in 2011. [3]

Submarine Tables for Pakistan

The Agosta-90B Hamza (Khalid-class) was constructed at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW). [4] Pakistani officials and media outlets extolled the accomplishment, treating the indigenous submarine's 26 September 2008 commissioning as a significant step in the enhancement of the country's naval capabilities vis-à-vis India. [5] It is the first conventional submarine in the Indian Ocean to feature the AIP system (in this case a 200KW liquid oxygen MESMA AIP), which allows the vessel to increase its submerged endurance for up to 3 weeks and improves its stealth characteristics. [6]

Hashmat (Agosta 70) Submarine

During the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, India effectively blockaded the port of Karachi, Pakistan's only major harbor. In response, Islamabad was able to curtail India's naval supremacy only through the use of its submarine force, which sank one Indian frigate. [7] Drawing on these experiences and the perceived threat posed by a larger Indian Navy, Pakistan has been continuously investing in its submarine force, within the constraints posed by its economy.

An effective sea-denial capability is vital to Pakistan. Given that over 96 percent of this trade is seaborne, the Pakistan Navy and its submarine fleet is charged with protecting the country's sea lanes of communication (SLOC). [8]

Developments in India's naval infrastructure and force posture significantly inform Pakistan's own naval planning. In February 2001, the Pakistan Navy publicly considered the deployment of nuclear weapons aboard its submarines, arguing that it had to keep pace with developments in India. [9] Islamabad later rescinded its statement in January 2003, reaffirming Pakistan's commitment to a "minimum credible deterrence." [10] In the wake of India's short-range Agni-I test that month, then Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Shahid Karimullah left the option open, saying that the country had no plans to deploy nuclear weapons on its submarines, and that it would do so only if "forced to." [11] But most experts agree that Pakistan is, at the very least, attempting to develop a sea-based version of the indigenously built nuclear capable ground-launched 'Babur' cruise missile. [12] This missile is similar in design to the American Tomahawk and Russian KH-55 cruise missiles. [13]

Khalid (Agosta 90B) Submarine

Pakistan has explored options to purchase additional advanced diesel-electric submarines in an attempt to address the country's "critical force imbalance" with India, which plans to begin acquiring six French AIP-equipped Scorpène submarines at a rate of one per year in 2014. [14] Discussions between the Pakistan Navy and Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) began in 2004 concerning the possible purchase of three diesel-electric Type 214 submarines equipped with an AIP system based on fuel cell technology. Although the deal appeared close to completion in 2008, it stalled over financing concerns and German political opposition to fueling an arms race in South Asia. [15] Parallel to the negotiations with TKMS, France also attempted to sell its Marlin or Scorpène-class submarines to Pakistan, and revived discussions after Pakistan failed to finalize the contract with Germany. [16] In May 2011, the Pakistani cabinet approved the start of negotiations with China over the purchase of diesel-electric submarines equipped with AIP. [17]

[1] "Submarine Force," Pakistan Navy,; "Chapter Seven: Central and South Asia Caribbean and Latin America," The Military Balance 2009, International Institute of Strategic Studies, Routledge, 2009.
[2] Interview with Vice Adm. Clees van Duyvendijk, Commander in Chief RNN, "Navy Chiefs of Staff on MCM and minelaying," Naval Forces, 2001, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 62-68; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[3] "Agosta: Pakistan's Tailor-Made Transfer of Technology," DCNS, October 2010,; Tim Fish, "DCNS to Provide AIP for Second Pakistani Sub," Jane's Defence Weekly, 5 May 2010,
[4] The Royal Institute of Naval Architects, Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works,
[5] "Pakistan navy inducts new submarine," Associated Press of Pakistan, 27 September 2008; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe,; "India submarine 'threatens peace,'" BBC News, 28 July 2009,; "Pakistan on verge of selecting HDW submarine," Jane's Defence Weekly, 2 December 2008,
[6] Feroz Hassan Khan, Pakistan's Perspective on the Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Report prepared for the Henry L. Stimson Center, April 2009; "Agosta Class," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 25 September 2009; "MESMA," Direction des Constructions Navales Services, September 2008,
[7] "Bangladeshi War of Independence: Indo-Pakistani War of 1971," GlobalSecurity.Org.
[8] Malik Qasim Mustafa, "Martitime Security: The Role of Pakistan Navy," The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, Vol. 25, No. 4, Winter 2005,
[9] "Pakistan may install nuclear missiles on its subs," Los Angeles Times, 23 February 2001,
[10] "Pakistan to retain minimum nuclear deterrence, PM says," The News, 7 January 2003, in Lexis-Nexis,
[11] Catherine Philp, "India stokes the fires with new missile test," The Times, 10 January 2003,; "Pakistan navy chief denies plan to equip submarines with nuclear warheads," The News, 26 January 2003; in Lexis-Nexis,
[12] Feroz Hassan Khan, Pakistan's Perspective on the Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Report prepared for the Henry L. Stimson Center, April 2009.
[13] Ottfried Nassauer, "Deutsche U-Boote fuer Pakistan: Fakten und Gedanken zu einem problematischen Exportvorhaben," Berliner Zentrum fuer Transatlantische Sicherheit, Research Note 8.1 (December 2008).
[14] "China, Pakistan: Pakistan Looks to China to Reduce Submarine Shortage," Tendersinfo News, 9 March 2011,; Andrew Pereira, "First Scorpene Submarine to be delivered in 2014," The Times of India, 14 April 2013,
[15] "Pak to Buy Three Submarines from Germany," Asian News International, 3 December 2008,; "Germany Negotiating Sale of Submarines with Pakistan," BBC Monitoring Europe – Political, 13 July 2009,; "France, Germany Vie to Sell Submarines to Pakistan," South Asian Media Network, 23 July 2009,
[16] "DCNS Can Sell to Pakistan, but not ATE," Intelligence Online, 8 April 2010,; J.A.C. Lewis, "DCNS Promotes Scorpene for Pakistan Buy," Jane's Defence Weekly, 13 June 2007,
[17] Farhan Bokhari, "Pakistan to Start Formal Talks with China to Buy Subs," Jane's Defence Weekly, 23 March 2011,; "Pakistan Cabinet Approves Holding of Talks to Procure Six Chinese Submarines," BBC Monitoring South Asia – Political, 14 March 2011,; "India Got a N-Submarine from Russia, Pakistan to Get Its from China," Pakistan Today, 22 April 2012,

July 29, 2013
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The submarine proliferation resource collection is designed to highlight global trends in the sale and acquisition of diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines. It is structured on a country-by-country basis, with each country profile consisting of information on capabilities, imports and exports.


This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.