Analysis: Pakistan Navy’s Hangor Submarine Program

Despite facing delays, Pakistan’s next-generation Hangor submarine program continues to progress, marking a significant leap in Pakistan’s naval capabilities.


In April 2015, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) approved the acquisition of eight air-independent propulsion (AIP)-equipped submarines (SSP) from China. The contract stipulated that Pakistan would construct four submarines at Karachi Shipyards and Engineering Works (KSEW), while China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) would build the remaining four.


Named the Hangor program in homage to the original Hangor-class diesel-electric submarine in

service from 1967 to 2006, the initial plan aimed to deliver the first four boats by 2023, with

the final four from KSEW due by 2028. However, the Pakistan Navy (PN) has yet to receive the first

boat, indicating a noticeable delay likely attributed to supplier-side issues and fiscal challenges

faced by both China and Pakistan.


Nevertheless, the Hangor program continues, and according to current estimates, it will enhance

the PN’s fleet by the late 2020s and early 2030s. Upon completion, the program will expand the PN’s

submarine fleet to 11 AIP-equipped vessels, complementing the PN’s three upgraded Khalid-class

(Agosta 90B) submarines. Additionally, the PN is pursuing an unspecified number of shallow-water attack submarines (SWATS), potentially positioning Pakistan with one of the largest sub-surface fleets in Asia.

The “Silent Service” Remains Vital for Pakistan’s Navy


Learn more about the Pakistan Navy’s ambitious plans to bolster its submarine fleet with a

combination of large conventional submarines and advanced coastal boats.


Hangor Submarine Design and Capabilities

The Hangor submarine is a variant of the China Shipbuilding & Offshore International Co.

Ltd (CSOC) S26, based on the Yuan-class submarine but tailored for export markets. Compared to the

standard S26, the Hangor features several design modifications, including increased displacement

(2,800 tons compared to S26’s 2,550 tons) and a slightly shorter hull (76 m compared to S26’s 77.7 m).

However, it retains similar capabilities, such as six torpedo tubes and a Stirling-based AIP system.


Initially, the S26 series was equipped with the German MTU 12V 396 SE84 diesel engine, but export

licenses for this powerplant were withheld by the German government. Consequently, Pakistan opted for

the Chinese CHD-620 diesel engine, causing delays in the program. It remains unclear whether these

delays solely stem from the engine swap or if Pakistan’s fiscal challenges also contribute to the



The propulsion system of the Hangor submarine could either be Chinese or a mix of domestic, Turkish,

and Western subsystems, similar to the upgraded Agosta 90Bs in the PN’s fleet. Both scenarios are

plausible; using a standard Chinese configuration may simplify integration and reduce costs, while a

subsystem build akin to the Agosta 90B could enhance fleet standardization and streamline training.


Notably, the PN is localizing subsystems for both surface and sub-surface systems. According to

Global Industrial and Defence Solutions’ (GIDS) product roadmap, Pakistan is developing an automated

deployment and retrieval system (ADRS) and electronic support measures (ESM) system for submarines.

Thus, these systems are likely to be configured for the Hangor class and potentially the new

shallow-water attack submarine (SWATS).


Potential Deployment Plans


The PN’s decision to acquire the Hangor submarines is intriguing, particularly given the design’s

suitability for open-ocean operations rather than shallow-water anti-access and area denial (A2/AD)

missions. Analysts suggest that the Hangor, based on the Type 039A/B Yuan-class, is designed for

open-ocean patrols, indicating greater range, endurance, and payload capacity.


Therefore, it is plausible that the PN intends to deploy the Hangor submarines primarily for

patrolling sea lanes and securing sea lines of communication (SLOC), rather than for shallow-water A2/AD operations.

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