diesel-electric submarines, Pakistan has gone ahead and signed a deal
with long-standing ally China to produce submarines with the same
technology that India wants.
The Pakistan Navy and China’s Ship Building Corporation signed a deal
that got the seal of finality during the visit of Chinese Premier Wen
Jiabao to Pakistan last December. Indian security agencies in know
of the matter have cautioned the government that this could tilt the
balance in favour of the Pakistan Navy in the Arabian Sea.
India is looking to spend Rs 50,000 crore to acquire six new
diesel-electric submarines that will be equipped with air-independent
propulsion (AIP) technology to boost operational capabilities.
Conventional diesel-electric submarines have to surface every couple of
days for oxygen to recharge their batteries. A submarine using AIP
technology can stay submerged for 12-15 days at a stretch, thus
increasing its capacity to hunt down enemy warships without being
detected. Nuclear powered submarines can stay underwater for even longer
Under the latest agreement, China will co-produce six AIP technology submarines with Pakistan.
Currently, the neighbouring navy has only one submarine — PNS Hamza.
Pakistan is also looking at an AIP system produced by a French or German
maker to fit on to the Chinese made hull of the vessel, said an
What is worrying for India is the known pace of Chinese construction.
China could well provide three-four new generation AIP technology
submarines to the neigbouring country within two years. The Chinese had
supplied four frigates to the Pakistan Navy in 18 months flat! The two
nations have also co-produced the single-engine J-17 fighter that was
inducted into the Pakistan Air Force last summer.
For India, it could take upto five years to induct its first such
submarine, as it will have to go through the process of trying out
offers from various global bidders before ordering the vessels.
The Indian Navy has a bigger fleet in terms of number but it is
dwindling and will be down to eight conventional diesel-electric vessels
by 2015. By then, the first of the six under-construction Scorpene
submarines will join the fleet followed by five more till 2018. The AIP
technology vessels will follow later. Going by estimates, Pakistan would
complete the induction of its fleet of AIP technology vessels by the
time India starts off with its line of such submarines.
However, India will maintain its edge over Pakistan in case of
nuclear-powered submarines. It hopes to induct the Akula-II Class attack
submarine K-152 Nerpa on a 10-year lease from Russia in the next few
weeks while the first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant is
expected to be inducted by early-2012.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma has already declared that
nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant would be on ‘deterrent patrol’ to
provide the ability of a retaliatory ‘second strike’ if the country
faces a nuclear attack.