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Khalid Class (Fr Agosta 90B)

Agosta and Daphne-class conventional attack submarines have been in service in PN since the 1970s. In the early 1990s, the Navy reviewed its fleet and decided that it needed three new-generation submarine. On 21 September 1994, the Pakistani authorities and DCN International signed a contract in Islamabad for the supply of three Agosta 90-B submarines. Key provisions of this contract called for the production of two Agosta 90Bs in Karachi as part of a progressive technology transfer program.

Agosta 90-B is a state of the art Submarine with latest sensors and combat system. This thoroughly updated platform features a Mesma Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, new materials (hull made of HLES 80 Steel), a new layout (rearranged subsections), and a vast array of new equipment. According to the US Navy standard, this type of submarine is a classical SSK whose weaponry consist of torpedoes, mines and anti ship SM-39 Exocet missiles. The submarine is fitted with the most modern command and control systems and can dive below 300-meters. The Agosta 90-B have reduced acoustic signatures and due to automation, the crew has also been lowered to 36.

The Pakistan Government decided to purchase French Agosta submarines against the recommendation of the Pakistan Navy, the then Naval Chief Admiral (retired) Saeed Muhammad Khan, during whose tenure the controversial deal was struck, revealed in October 2011 in a defamation suit filed against a television channel.

"The plaintiff (Admiral Saeed) in his capacity as Chief of Naval Staff did not recommend the French Agosta 90 B Class submarines for acquisition by the Government of Pakistan and had in fact recommended, based on the technical and other investigations carried out by Pakistan Navy prior to 1994, the UK manufactured Upholder submarines... The reason for the recommendation was based primarily on the fact that the UK submarines were readily available and had been tested at sea whereas the French Agosta 90 B Class of submarines were yet to be manufactured being prototypes and would have taken years to be delivered. Furthermore, the Pakistan Navy had been offered five and possibly 6 UK Upholder submarines compared to three Agosta 90 B class of submarines for a lesser price..."

Pakistan and DCN France signed a contract for 3 Agosta 90-B submarines on 21 September 1994 and was valued at 5,4 billion francs (~ 775 million dollars). Financing for the contract rested on credit given to Pakistan by France and while allowing France to export the submarines nonetheless resulted in significant financial losses. Pakistan Navy engineers and workmen were to be trained and qualified in the construction processes. DCN was to assist PN Dockyard to upgrade the infrastructure for construction of submarine. To optimize the available infrastructure some works were shared with KS&EW as well.

Under the contract, one submarine was to be built in France while the remaining two were to be built indigenously in Pakistan. The first unit, "Khalid," was built in Cherbourg and delivered to Pakistan in 1999-2000. The Khalid is named after Hazrat Khalid Bin Walid, a successful military commanders of Islam who was bestowed the title of 'Saif Ullah' by the Holy Prophet. The second unit, "Saad," was begun in Cherbourg and sent to the Karachi Dockyard for modular assembly in 2000. The third unit, "Hamza," was manufactured entirely in Karachi.

Compared to the Hashmat class (Agosta 70) submarines, the Khalid classs (Agosta 90B) reportedly has a 200-400 percent increased submerged range. The KHALID comes armed with the SM-39 Exocet submarine launched anti-ship missiles (AShM) with a range of 50 Km. Launched from beneath the surface, an AShM gives a submarine valuable manoeuvring time after firing the missile and is inherently more dangerous than a torpedo. This capability is currently not available with the Indian Navy.

PN Dockyard is the lead yard for the AGOSTA 90B construction Project and started functioning as a Base Engineering Organization at the time of independence of Pakistan in 1947 before venturing into Naval construction in the early 1980's to fulfill a number of Pakitan Navy requirements.

The construction activities undertaken other than this program of pressure hull were fabrication of Ballast Panels, seating, pipes, routing of cables, connections for integration and setting to work of various onboard equipment installation of misc. mechanical and structural items. Most of these activities required very high degree of precision both during fabrication and installation. In order to maintain desired hydrodynamic shape and alignment of ballast panels in particular, is technically a highly complex job and requires use of sophisticated theodilities and optical alignment equipment. Entire construction activity including outfitting work onboard the submarine involves quality control checks at every stage. Non conformity reports are initiated for slightest errors or deviations from procedures/stringent tolerances.

This quality control system which is augmented by external quality assurance i.e. both PMOD & French state ensures that ISO-9002 criteria's are met within strict standards set by French on SMI in totality by their Pakistani counterparts in PN Dockyard. Because of the complexity involved, the submarine construction program required a wide and strong industrial infrastructure surrounding it, such as electro-mechanical machinery, steel processing, electrical and electronics, computer hardware and software, paints, structure and pipes manufacturing etc. A strong support from the industry with willingness to invest in R&D was required while at the same time, there was a need to identify those items that could be considered for local manufacturing due to considerations such as: a) Availability of technical details like specifications/data; b) Availability of technical know how; c) Availability/possibility of setting up necessary infrastructure locally; and d) Rough estimate of its economic viability.

Thorough analysis and research was carried-out to select the probable items for development in local market. It meant looking into detailed specifications of each selected item as well as requirement of special facilities, skills, materials etc. that may be available in the local industry. In pursuance of exploring the local industry, a number of companies were contacted to undertake the fabrication of onboard machinery including various types of pumps, motor and AC units installed on board AGOSTA 90B submarine.

The available data was provided to these firms for study and analysis. On the feedback received a few reputed companies showed their interest and initial discussion revealed great potential in the market. PN Dockyard would be able to provide complete details of the equipment including material specification/size and capacities required for development. Pipe Manufacturing was also a field which was considered for local manufacturing exploitation. A market survey revealed as well that there were a number of companies, which had the capability to manufacture cables. A number of firms were contacted and provided with specifications. The cost effect of this exercise, if successful, can be gauged from the fact that the Kit of material for one Submarine costs 1 Billion Fr.F. Even if 1/4th of the total items are locally produced, more than 250 million Fr.F would be going into the local industry for only one submarine.

The 1994 contract included provisions for about $111 million in commissions, which were legal at that time, to be paid to Pakistani and French intermediaries. Due to the technology involved with the construction of the vessels, and the technical difficulties encountered by the Karachi Shipyards, the presence of 80 French engineers and technicians was deemed necessary. On May 8, 2002, 14 people including 11 French citizens providing assistance to the Karachi Dockyard were killed when their bus was hit by a car filled with explosives. The recall of French nationals working on the Agosta submarine project in Karachi after the blast was a setback to Pakistan's submarine modernisation project The French engineers and technicians were conducting final checks on the second of the three Agosta 90-B submarines contracted for by Pakistan.

Suspicion initially fell on Al Qaeda but a French government report in 2002 suggested that the attack was provoked by the decision in 1995 by French President Chirac to halt the payments of commissions for the defense sales, a practice which was legal until that time. In 2011, the French investigators and the judge in the case, known as “the Karachi Affair,” asked the French Defence Ministry to reveal documents which allegedly attributed the murders to a former minister in Benazir government and others. At that time the French government headed by Jacques Chirac had outlawed the payment of commissions. The key accusation is that money from kickbacks for submarine sales to Pakistan were diverted to the campaign fund of 1995 presidential candidate, Edouard Balladur, for whom Mr Sarkozy was the spokesman. Sarkozy angrily denied involvement in the so-called Karachi Affair after two men who have been close to him were questioned in a judicial investigation. Martine Aubry, a candidate for the Socialist Party’s nomination for president, described the Karachi Affair as “certainly one of the most serious in the Fifth Republic.”

Pakistan had already acquired one Agosta 90-B submarine (PNS Khalid) from France and this would have been the second one. The first has already been delivered and the French nationals were present in Karachi were working on the second submarine. The third submarine was to be built entirely in Pakistan and was scheduled to be completed by 2004. The Karachi Dockyard was cleared for commercial production of the submarine for potential customers. The Indian navy was close to acquiring the French Scorpene submarine, which are ''far superior'' to the Agostas.

With the introduction of three new submarines, the Navy retired the four older Daphne class subs in January 2006, which left a capability gap. The Navy began looking to select a new and a more up to date platform with the hope to construct the new subs indigenously. Pakistan's Navy had requirements for a further six submarines and there was an open tender for this. As of early 2009 it appeared that Pakistan would build at least 3 U-214 Submarines and maybe 2-3 additional Agosta-90B Submarines. There was a significant indigenous capability installed at the KSEW during the execution of this programme, a capability which would go to waste and skilled manpower degenerate if not put to further use. But by 2011 there was little talk of revival of collaboration with France for the construction of even a fourth Agosta-90B submarine at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works. The indigenous construction of the Agosta 90B in Pakistan led the country to consider building the vessels for export, resulting in competition with the French shipyard. As of mid-2002, Pakistan was reportedly already in the process of negotiating such sales with three Asian countries. However, a decade later, nothing had come of such discussions.


PNS/M KHALID Pakistan Navy Submarine is the first of the Agosta-90B class submarines acquired by the Pakistan Navy from France. It was commissioned on 6 September 1999 and inducted into PN Fleet on 21 December 1999. The Agosta-90B is an improved version of the sea proven Agosta 70.

PNS/M KHALID encompasses all qualities to strike terror in the hearts of enemies. The submarine has deep diving capabilities and can undertake patrol of more than 60 days. She also posses state of the art Combat System integrating all available sensors to launch multi-purpose wire guided torpedoes and sub launched missiles. The outfit of submarine systems, weapons and sensors make her unique and unprecedented amongst the existing new generation conventional submarines.

PNS/M KHALID is named after Hazrat KHALID BIN WALID, the great Fighter and one of the most reputed military Commanders of Islam. Agosta submarines are currently in service with three navies. PNS/M KHALID incorporate improvements based on the experience gained by the French Navy and new advances in endurance, acoustic discretion, propulsion and diving capability. Its fully integrated COMBAT system enables the command to quickly evaluate the tactical situation and decide on an appropriate response. The submarine is capable to launch multipurpose torpedoes and submarine launched anti-ship missiles. PNS/M KHALID is first Agosta-90B class submarine built for Pakistan Navy by DCN Cherbourg. As per contract, this submarine was completely built in France. The submarine construction was completed on 8 Aug 98. Sea trials were conducted at Cherbourg, Brest and Toulon. PNS/M KHALID is the fore-runner of Pakistan Navy, capable of undertaking a wide variety of missions, far and deep from home waters.


The second submarine was launched on 24 August 2002 and started its harbor and sea trials. This submarine completed over 1200 harbor and sea trials and on successful completion this was commissioned as PNS/M SAAD. PNS/M SAAD was the 1st Agosta-90B class submarine built at Pakistan Navy Dockyard under the Transfer of Technology (TOT) agreement with France. She was commissioned in Pakistan Navy on 13 December 2003. Then Ag Captain M Tariq Iqbal Sharafi PN (P.No. 2599) was designated at 1st Commanding Officer of PN Submarine SAAD. The submarine is capable of operating at deeper depths and can under take patrol of more than 60 days. These also posses the state of the art Combat System integrating all available sensors to launch multi purpose wire guided torpedoes and sub launched missiles. The outfit of submarine systems, weapons and sensors make it unique and unprecedented amongst the existing generation conventional submarines.

The transfer of technology level for next two submarines was to be raised gradually in second and third submarine. This was also necessary to immediately put to use the new acquired construction skills. Based on this principle, three pressure hull sections of submarine No. 2 (PNS/M SAAD) were built in France and delivered in 1998. This enabled the engineers and workmen trained in France to quickly organize and put to use their skills. Even before the delivery of sections of submarine No. 2 the work on major structures was started in December 1997. The three sections were transferred to Section Building Hall using Dual Walking Beams and were pre-outfitted for one year. These sections were lowered in Graving Dock in December 1999 and junctioned together. The outfitting phase in Graving Dock included 14000 equipment and foundations, 6000 pipes, 40 kilometers of cables and 38000 connections. Approximately 30000 quality checks were performed during the construction of submarine No. 2.


PNS/M HAMZA, the third Agosta 90B submarine that has been completely built at Pakistan Navy Dockyard was commissioned into Pakistan Navy Fleet on 26 September 2008. The submarine was launched in August 2006 by Begum Sehba Musharraf (wife of then president General (Rtd) Pervez Musharraf). The submarine is named after Hazrat Hamza who is one of the uncles of the last Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH). HAMZA was known as Lion of God and Lion of Heaven for his bravery. PN Submarine HAMZA is the first submarine that has been fitted with MESMA Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system. The submarine has been indigenously constructed under transfer of technology programme by DCNS of France. Pakistan is the first country to use MESMA AIP system onboard a submarine.

The Karachi-built Khalid class Agosta 90B (the third one to join the Pakistani Navy) integrated a new propulsion unit developed by the French Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN), the MESMA closed-cycle steam-turbine AIP system. The other two Khalid class submarines will later be retrofitted with that propulsion unit.

The maximum transfer of Technology was envisaged in submarine No. 3. The cylindrical part of the pressure hull was to be built from raw plates. All major structures and appendages were to be built in Pakistan. The work of pressure hull construction also started in 1997, was shared between PN Dockyard and KS&EW. PN Dockyard provided the material after cutting to size and shape on NC cutting machine to KS&EW. This kit of material was rolled/formed and welded to make 12 subsections. These subsections were taken to Section Building Hall in PN Dockyard to make 03 large sections. On completion of pressure hull these three sections were pre-outfitted with decks, bulkheads and large structures. Based on similar construction methodology these sections along with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system MESMA, was lowered into Graving dock on 19 August 2003 and outfiting started.


Propulsion MESMA air-independent propulsion system
2 SEMT-Pielstick 16 PA4 V 185 VG diesels (3,600hp)
2200kW electric motor
1 shaft
Length 76.2m
Beam 6.8m
Draught 5.4m
Displacement surfaced 1570 tons
Displacement dived 1760 tons
Complement 8 Officers, 43 Sailors
Sensors Radar, ESM, Periscopes, Sonar Passive Towed Array
Armament Missiles, Torpedoes, Mines

Name No Builder Launched Commissioned Notes
Block I
SaadS138Karachi Shipyard200112 Dec 2003__
HamzaS139Karachi Shipyard10 Aug 200626 Sep 2008__
Block II
S Karachi Shipyard 201? 201? __
S Karachi Shipyard 201? 201? __
S Karachi Shipyard 201? 201? __

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Page last modified: 20-11-2011 19:21:13 ZULU