March 16, 2017

Current/Potential Saudi, Chinese & Pakistani Military Cooperation Increasing

Tactical Report reports: "Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, who also acts as Defence Minister, held talks with Chinese Defence Minister General Chang Wanquan on 31/8/16 in Beijing. He is said to have discussed with General Wanquan the possibility of the Saudi General Organization for Military Industries (GOMI) taking part in a project to build a type of a Chinese attack submarine with a Chinese assistance." See Tactical Report link.


The Saudis and other Gulf oil kingdoms are increasingly looking to China and Pakistan for weapons and manpower respectively. Saudi Arabia is the senior member of the loose economic and political Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance which also includes Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.

Reduced revenue from oil/gas may be changing the arms purchasing patterns of the Persian Gulf oil Kingdoms away from Western arms sellers and increasingly towards China. Submarines are an expensive item and Pakistan was recently announced as the buyer of 8 relatively inexpensive Chinese designed S20 Yuan derrvatives. The Saudis lack submarines making it concievable Saudi Arabia may form part or be added to the S20 purchase deal. Though a matter kept secret - perhaps the Saudis have part financed Pakistan's 8 x S20 submarine purchase in return for:
-  Pakistani training of Saudi submariners
-  Saudi secondments to Pakistani subs,
-  Pakistani submarine missions that support Saudi national security objectives
-  the ultimate Saudi aim that it form its own submarine service with Pakistani and Chinese help
-  also local submarine building with foreign help including South Korea's HHI. See report 4. below
-  other GCC members might also be involved, especially cooperating against the Iranian threat.


Of interest are three reports on Saudi, Chinese and Pakistani cooperation. The rarely publicised matter of a high level of paid Pakistani military assistance to Saudi Arabia has just become more public. Summaries drawn from these reports are:

1.  Reported on March 13, 2017 the GCC countries, in total, form the world’s largest importers of arms, but lower oil prices are encouraging members to consider cheaper arms suppliers. Also the GCC want to be less dependent on the US.
A project to build an oil pipeline from Palistan's coast, across Pakistan to China is on the mind of GCC oil producers. This has prompted high level visits from Pakistan’s Army Chief and Prime Minister, to their GCC opposite numbers.
...Pakistanis provide training to GCC armed forces and thousands serve in Gulf uniforms in most of the GCC’s militaries, including entire battalions of Pakistanis in the Saudi military. "So there is a very intimate relationship already that goes beyond any relationship ... with western countries", Mr Krieg said. "There is a dependency on Pakistan anyway."
2.  Reported in The Hindustan Times, March 14, 2017: ""The Pakistan Army will send a brigade of combat troops to Saudi Arabia to strengthen defences along the kingdom’s vulnerable southern border in the face of threats from the Islamic State and Houthi rebels, according to media response to a request from Riyadh, which “wants the troops as an emergency response force”.

"...The brigade will be based in southern Saudi Arabia and will be deployed inside its borders to thwart possible attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels,"

"...Sources in Islamabad said Pakistan was apparently being sucked into the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen..."

3.  An even greater estimate of Pakistani military cooperation with Saudi Arabia comes from The National of March 14, 2017 which reports: "Although the kingdom, like other Arab Gulf countries, does not make the numbers public, experts say there are as many as 70,000 Pakistanis serving across the Saudi military services [including Navy?] at any one time.”

4.  MarineLink, October 11, 2016 reports "New Saudi Arabia Shipyard to be ‘World’s Largest’ 
Developers of a new shipyard in Saudi Arabia say the facility will be the largest maritime yard in the world providing a range of services, including large shipbuilding, large ship repair, offshore rigs fabrication and offshore support vessel repair...The new facility, a joint venture between state oil giant Saudi Aramco, the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia, Lamprell (LAM.L) and Hyundai Heavy Industries, will be located in the eastern Saudi port of Ras Al-Khair, north of Jubail on the Persian Gulf. It is planned to be fully operational by 2021." 



karthik said...

The age old pestilence continues and is alive and well I see. As usual the Chinese supply the hardware and the pak mil supply the labour. Saudi Arabia has been mortally afraid of getting attacked as any successful attack on esp holy sites would essentially decapitate the politico religious elites of Saudi and by extension their hold on the Sunni world. Hence Saudi has used US support and relied on Pakistani manpower to fight in conflicts going back to the 1960s ( remember the infamous brigadier and later dictator zia ul haq of Pakistan killing 1000 Palestinians in 1968?, was under orders from the "you know who" of the Arab world)

The submarines, the export version yuan SSK would be latest in the series of Pakistani operated Chinese toys in the Saudi arsenal. Heck I wouldn't put it past the Pakistani military to wing out 'funding' for some of their own yuans in the process.

PS: an Iraqi acquaintance of mine used to derisively say that the Saudis, Omanis qataris and Kuwaitis are so lazy, they would need a servant from a poorer nation to scratch a flea bite on their rear. The criticism holds good for the yuan class SSK too.

Anonymous said...

KSA already has DF-21, talk about IRBM proliferation.

Peter Coates said...


Yes I mention the likelihood of Saudi DF-21s way back



Peter Coates said...

Hi karthik

Pakistani sponsorship of cross border terrorism into India of course is an evil curse.

Separatly India's conventional military superiority makes Pakistan's development of nukes and a submarine service a solution for Pakistanis - . The result of the 1971 war must have really got on their nerves.

Equally India in part began developing nukes due to the result of the 1962 Border War with China.



MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

The Taliban also were a pet of Pakistans secret service.

Your latest report about Bangladeshi submarines makes me think about another possibility:
Chinese submarines with a KSA "commander" and a Chinese crew.


GhlaibKabir said...

Karthik here

funny how Saudi, China, US and Pakistan are linked through Pakistan extracting rent in 'return for services rendered' (a woman doing what pakistan does would be branded 'loose' charactered and worse, to put it mildly)

It helps to have a 5 line background on why: Pak identified itself in 1947 as 'Not India'. The patently fake 'Arab' origin superiority is what drives pak to 'to be on par' with a 'weak and hindu' India (their words not mine). ex: India has MIRVed missiles, pak needs one too despite being incapable of making basic steel or even a bicycle.

(Jinnah in 1947: Why partition if we cannot be better than them.. see the rot starts then)

Effect: This gave us the 1947 Kashmir war, 1965 war, 1971 war, 1999 war and cross border terror in the face of repeated conventional failure.

there are hence 3 chessboards, Nuclear, Conventional and Sub conventional,

1.Nuclear Syphilis: The China Pak North Korea proliferation menage a trois is well known. Esp after 1998, pak is under the impression it has a great neutralizer for the advantage India had conventionally (it is another story that this nuke bomb has sealed pakistan into permanent instability and dysfunction)

2. Conventional: India enjoys some conventional advantage that will kick in a few weeks into a conflict usually. that explains pak losses to a 'weak idol worshipper' India... the more they lost, just like the Arabs they sought to emulate, they entered into permanent victimhood and sought to use religion as a way of going back to 'roots' and as a tool of cohesion. this explains the rightward shift by pak since 1973 to mental asylum status now.
(this was visible in 1947 itself...just sad that pak turned to be the social misfit it is)

3. Subconventional: till now using the ISI run menagerie of terror groups (something OBL, Saudia and US financed in the 80s) pak thinks it has waged a largely victorious campaign against India (we can debate if making pak a cesspool of jihad in the process is 'victory', but then we don't have time for sane discussions do we)

India could give pak Kashmir on a platter and things will change diddly squat as the supremacist mentality dating back to 1192 AD (in its current avatar starting 1700s with Shah Waliullah) is alive, kicking and becoming more lethal. pak ruling elite wants to see the green flag of faith on New Delhis Red Fort...nothing else will do...

Yes India did accelerate the bomb deve. process post 1962, but the plans were in my opinion always there...1962 hastened it and sadly China has made serious errors in judgement by not understanding history of India by doing things like giving 50 kgs WGU to pak in 1980s and still does---> (latest shenanigan: we can be pretty sure the SLCM launch that PN made was a stunt by a visiting Shang class SSN... I seriously doubt if Thales would have modified SUBTICS to fire the PN SLCM )

I have no doubts at all that in the future either pak or China will wage a war against us. it is a matter of when and not if. the brainwashed hatred has no parallel and runs deep.

Sorry that was a long post. thought you might appreciate a bit of context....

Peter Coates said...

2 days after this Submarine Matters' article:

"Current/Potential Saudi, Chinese & Pakistani Military Cooperation Increasing" of March 16, 2017

comes the headline

"Saudi Arabia, China sign deals worth up to $85 billion" of March 18, 2017

Coincidence? Finger on pulse? Plain clairvoyance? My Pakistani snooping team in China? :)


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub [at 17/3/17 9:27 PM]

Yes, in the interests of publicity the Bangladesh Navy should confess how many Chinese are in its subs and on its naval bases.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Karthik [at 18/3/17 12:52 AM]

Pakistani subs armed with future nuclear tipped Babur missiles are the game changer India (and other countries) could be concerned about.

Such subs may not be easily identifiable as nuclear armed because only normal torpedo tubes are required.

It might be best India has an equivalent cruise missile weapon as a deterrent. This would be in addition to India's eventually commissioned SSBNs.



karthik said...

Hi Pete, we have a proverb in my state " getting hit with a borrowed stick still hurts", so Babur or whatever is the name of the Chinese knock off will hurt India.

So you are right.

The Brahmos ( tested to 450 km with eventual range of 800 km) and the Nirbhay ( 1000 km initial up to 1500 km finally) are likely the AShM and LACMs of the IN. As of now Brahmos has been tested from underwater pontoons and will likely be installed on the Kilo subs initially. If the project 75i ends up with VLS then it will be the brahmos initially.

I can only hazard a guess that Indian SSNs will carry both the 800 km supersonic brahmos and full range sub sonic nirbhay.

MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

Saudia Arabia may have another option for submarines: used Ula-class / Type 210 from Norway.

Norways Ulas will be replaced soon by Type 212. It is not unusual for Germany Army to lease weapons to other countries (Eurofighter to Austria, tanks for Canada, ...). So maybe Norway will get a German Type 212A and TKMS could overhaul a Norwegian Ula very soon. Several Ulas are already "tropicalized".

KNM Utvær was disqualified from NATO exercise Joint Winter in 2004. The submarine did "sink" to many ships including HMS Invincible for a planed landing operation.