Pakistan is launching domestic construction of warships, submarines and missile boats as part of its ambitious naval modernization program in collaboration with China, according to media reports.
Chinese media reports have described a building program involving six of eight S-20 AIP-equipped variants of the Type-039A/Type-041 submarine under negotiation; four "Improved F-22P" frigates equipped with enhanced sensors and weaponry (possibly including the HQ-17 surface-to-air missile developed from the Russian Tor 1/SA-N-9); and six Type-022 Houbei stealth catamaran missile boats, to be built by Pakistan's state-owned shipbuilder Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW), according to DefenseNews.
Pakistan is expanding and modernizing its underwater fleet with 8 additional AIP-equipped submarines jointly built with China. Mansoor Ahmed of Quaid-e-Azam University told Defense News that AIP-equipped conventional submarines "provide reliable second strike platforms, [and] an assured capability resides with [nuclear-powered attack and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines], which are technically very complex and challenging to construct and operate compared to SSKs, and also very capital intensive."
Expansion of KSEW in Karachi includes a new foundry, fabrication facilities to cover all aspects of ship construction, berthing facilities, and two graving docks of 26,000 and 18,000 dead weight tons, spread over 71 acres. A 7,881-ton ship lift transfer system will be completed next year. KSEW will expand to occupy facilities vacated by the Navy as it transfers from Karachi to Ormara. The Pakistan Navy Dockyard, which is adjacent to KSEW, already has facilities upgraded by the French during construction of Agosta-90B submarines.
The Pakistan Navy modernization efforts further expands existing China-Pakistan military manufacturing collaboration at Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) which has resulted in design and manufacturing of JF-17 fighter jets for Pakistan Air Force.
JF-17 Fighter Jet
In addition to designing and building military hardware together, Pakistan and China are also increasingly collaborating on manufacturing consumer appliances and products. The Pakistan-China economic corridor project includes setting up of several special economic zones for this purpose. A good example of this cooperation is Haier-Ruba special economic zone in Lahore. Haier-Ruba joint venture in Pakistan has announced plans to start manufacturing laptops and smartphones in Lahore this year, according to the JV chairman Shah Faisal Afridi. The Haier-Ruba group is one of the largest manufacturers of polyester yarn and home appliances in the country.
The growth of both military and civilian manufacturing industries is helping to develop Pakistan's human capital and creating job opportunities for engineers, technicians and other workers.
Pakistan has taken a page from China's industrialization playbook which shows that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) led the nation's industrial growth, first with military hardware and then expanding into consumer and industrial product manufacturing.