ISLAMABAD — Media reports on Feb. 11 state the Pakistan Navy intends to build nuclear-powered submarines as a matter of priority.
No sources were quoted in the reports, which indicated the first submarine would be operational in five to eight years.
When contacted by Defense News, a spokesman for the Pakistani Navy said he could not comment as to the veracity of the reports.
Mansoor Ahmed, a lecturer at Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University who specializes in nonconventional weapons and missiles, believes the reports are the result of a calculated leak by the Navy, and that a message may be being sent to India.
“This news … appears to be some kind of signaling to the Indians seeing as they are taking delivery of a new nuclear-powered submarine from the Russians as well as their own Arihant Class SSBN,” he said.
“So Pakistan is signaling to the Indians that they are mindful of these developments and taking due measures in response.”
Ahmed said he has for some time believed Pakistan was working on a nuclear propulsion system for submarine applications and that Pakistan already has a functional submarine launched variant of the Babur cruise missile.
The Babur cruise missile is very similar to the U.S. BGM-109 Tomahawk, and perhaps derives at least some technology from Tomahawks which crashed in Pakistan during U.S. strikes on al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan in 1998. It can be armed with conventional or nuclear warheads.
Ahmed believes Pakistan is now gearing up to build its own SSN/SSGN flotilla as a way of deterring India and maintaining the strategic balance in South Asia.
However, in the long term in order to fully ensure the credibility of its deterrent Ahmed said he believes Pakistan should build ballistic missile submarines.