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ISLAMABAD: A Turkish firm will upgrade Pakistan Navy’s three Khalid-class submarines, the Ministry of Defence and Production (MoDP) announced on Wednesday.

“The MoDP has signed a contract for mid-life upgradation of Khalid-class submarines with a Turkish firm STM Savunma Teknolojileri Muhendislik ve Ticaret,” the ministry said in a statement.

The signing ceremony of the contract was witnessed by Secretary of MoDP retired Lt Gen Syed Muhammad Owais and Turkish Ambassador Sadik Babür Girgin.

The signing of the contract follows an agreement reached during Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik’s visit to Pakistan on June 3 for modernising three Pakistani submarines.

The Turkish defence minister had subsequently said in an interview that the agreement was for modernisation of Pakistan Navy’s fleet of three Agosta-class submarines.

In Pakistan, Agosta 90B has been designated the Khalid class. The Agosta 90-B are diesel-electric attack submarines, which were in 2011 retro-fitted with air-independent propulsion systems.

The three submarines were ordered from France in 1994, where the first of them was built, while the remaining were assembled in Pakistan. The MoDP did not give details of the contract, but according to a defence analysis website, the task might focus on on-board electronics because the Turkish firms were more familiar with German designs and not the French origin submarines.

The ministry hailed the agreement as “an important defence project that will go a long way in enhancing operational capabilities of existing submarines of Pakistan Navy, besides strengthening defence relations between two brotherly countries”.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2016