Pakistan has been trying to extract free or reduced price submarines from China for years. Pakistan has used an information loop rumour strategy over the last few weeks to try to pressure China to sell.
How can Pakistan, with a naval budget of around $750 million(?) per year afford to buy, crew and maintain the 8 for wildly different amounts:
- $250 million to $325 million each to
- equivalent of $500 million to 625 million each?
The specific aim is to pressure Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign a deal when he visits Pakistan April 20 and 21, 2015. If Pakistan claims a deal has been made then it would need to prove it with details, including:
- numbers of subs sold?
- type of subs? (ie. old Ming or newer Yuan class submarines, not vague "Project" "S-26" of "S-30" designations)
- delivery or building schedule? (when is the first submarine and last to be delivered?)
- are the submarines used or new-build according to Pakistani specifications?
HISTORY OF RUMOURS
- March 9, 2011 The Hindu “Pak plans to acquire 6 submarines from China” Obviously didn’t happen.
- March 1, 2014 Times of India story - quoting a Pakistani official proved groundless with no deal made "by end 2014." - China didn't sign.
Pakistan times its latest rumour campaign in preparation for President Xi vist:
- March 31, 2015 Dawn article "ISLAMABAD: [Pakistani] Naval officials informed the Standing Committee on Defence Monday that the federal government has endorsed a summary to get eight submarines from China." -No Chinese promise.
- April 2, 2015 Discussion board insert - referring to speculative Dawn article - No Chinese promise.
- April 2, 2015 Reuters article - - Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved a deal "years in the making" [but has China approved?] to buy eight submarines from China, a Pakistani government official said on Thursday, in what could be one of China's largest overseas weapons sales once it is signed. The [Pakistani] official...said the deal to buy the diesel-electric submarines would likely be signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visits, "but that is still not final".
"...Asked about the submarines, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying [only said] China and Pakistan were friendly neighbors and that the two sides had normal military exchanges. "I can tell you, relevant cooperation does not violate international convention and accords with China's three principles on military exports," she told a daily news briefing." - No Chinese promise.
APRIL 22, 2015 UPDATE AND COMMENT
President Xi has now departed Pakistan and, in line, with my earlier prediction there has been no Chinese mention (that I've seen) of Chinese submarines for Pakistan http://tribune.com.pk/story/873354/chienese-president-xi-jinping-to-address-joint-session/ . The usual Pakistani speculation remains.
Pakistan’s has five medium sized submarines but needs newer submarines to counter India. Pakistan’s flotilla is:
- two Agosta 70s (PNS Hashmat and PNS Hurmat) completed in 1979-1980 – past the usual 30 year in water use-by date - hence probably semi or non-operational, and
- three Agosta 90Bs with completion dates (PNS Khalid (1999), Saad (2002) and Hamza (2006)) As they are AIP, Exocet capable/equipped and the last two built in Pakistan this is quite an achievement.
As Pakistan is more than $60 Billion in debt and has a naval budget of around just $750 million it may not even be able to crew or maintain 4 to 8 extra submarine even if China donated them.
Pakistan has been talking about converting Babur cruise missiles for submarine use but China already has small SLBMs like the JL-1 that might be more appropriate.
Pakistan may be able to put nuclear warheads on its Exocets.
I think China considers Pakistan too unstable, and uneconomic to give it second strike submarine platforms. Pakistan is also a source of Islamic militancy but China has Islamic terrorism problems. They are not natural allies other than in their joint effort to partially surround India.