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 reports...in 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."