Pakistan has been fortifying its naval forces in order to better defend Gawadar port. Recently, Pakistan signed deals with turkey and China to acquire new submarines and upgrade existing ones.
In 2015, Pakistan signed the deal with China to purchase eight Hangor (Type 042 Yuan-class) submarines. It was provided that four of the submarines will be constructed at Karachi Shipyard that is Transfer of Technology (ToT).
In 2016, Pakistan signed the deal for the first time with Turkish manufacturer to modernize the Agosta 90B Submarine, a project worth $350 million. Under this project, STM will be exporting design and engineering services to the Pakistan Navy.
The submarine deals with China and Turkey will bloat up Pakistan Navy’s strength. Now, Pakistan is building new midget submarines for its Navy. Pakistan’s Special Service Group (Navy) uses the Cosmos MG110 midget for overt and covert operations in service since 1990s.
Rare satellite image capture Mid-August at #Karachi Naval Base #Pakistan spots an uncovered possible Agosta-class submarine having its hull cleaned of sea-debris (Salt hull corrosion/barnacle growth) it might have captured on a long deployment pic.twitter.com/LVWbpVHMQZ
— Damien Symon (@detresfa_) September 17, 2019
It was important that Pakistan replace its aging submarine. Therefore it has proposed to build a new midget submarine. Year Book 2015-16 of Ministry of Defense Production (MoDP), Pakistan listed the development and construction of a midget submarine as a target for 2017–2018. The MoDP documents confirms that midget submarine project will be built indigenously.
Notably, a recent satellite image confirms that Pakistan might have indigenously developed a new midget submarine as it proposed in the MoDP 2015–2016.
From 2016 on, one can see the submarine partially covered in a tent in. Since 2019, the submarine can be seen in open view, suggesting that the construction is near completion and that sea trials may have commenced.
The new midget submarine, which is compact in size, is leading to speculation regarding its possible role in the Arabian Sea and in combat.
Satellite images of #Karachi naval dockyard, #Pakistan indicate sea trials of an upgraded #PakistanNavy agosta submarine might be ongoing as the dry docks hosting it are now empty, additionally a new workshed construction is noted onsite as well #Imint pic.twitter.com/BYja9RsUL7
— Damien Symon (@detresfa_) March 12, 2020
The midget submarine as seen from the satellite images has a length of around 55 feet (16.7 m) and a beam measurement of around 8 feet (2.43 m). The vessel’s displacement is currently unknown.
Given India’s preparedness to develop a credible anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability, Pakistan’s new midget submarine can challenge India’s maritime operations in the Arabian Sea
The prominent vertical rudder, propeller, and the round-shaped nose are visible from the shadow of the midget submarine. The snorkel is not visible in the image. But it is clear from the image that the submarine appears to be larger than the Swimmer Delivery Vehicle (SDV) and slightly smaller than the MG110 midget submarines.
The compact size of the submarine with simple hull constructions suggests that it is easy to operate and maintain. The vessel can likely be transported over land due to its size. The defense expert H. I. Sutton writes in Forbes that the submarine design is new and doesn’t appear to be an imported one.
Midget Submarine in the Arabian Sea
The Pakistan has been using new midget submarines for many years now. The development of a new midget submarine not only showcases its indigenous capability, but also shows that Pakistan is prepping its underwater warfare capability.
As Pakistan continues to lay emphasis on a sea denial strategy there is a possibility that it may use the midget submarine in an offensive role during any conflict with India in the coming months and years.
Read more: Jinnah-Class Frigate: Pakistan Navy’s JF-17
The seaward defense of Karachi has been one of the major challenges for the Pakistan Navy since the 1971 war with India. The midget submarine would fill a gap in protecting Karachi Port from sea-based attack. Most importantly, it would replace the current MG110s in service with the SSG (Navy) for operations such as frogmen operations, laying mines, and so on.
Pakistan might use the new midget submarine to expand its clandestine operations off the western Coast of India, particularly around Gujarat’s Sir Creek area and Mumbai.
The Pakistan Navy in March, 2019 had thwarted an attempt by an Indian submarine to enter Pakistani territorial waters.
The latest development comes after an increase in tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
“The Pakistan Navy is always ready to guard its territorial waters and is capable of responding to any kind of aggression with full force,” said the navy.