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Turkish firm wins Pakistani submarine upgrade contract

Turkey's STM selected as main contractor for midlife upgrade of Pakistan’s Agosta 90B submarines​

Bahattin Gönültaş   | 23.06.2016
Turkish firm wins Pakistani submarine upgrade contract FILE PHOTO



Turkey's STM Defense Technologies has won a competitive bid to upgrade three Pakistani submarines, the Turkish company said on Monday.

"Engineering exports will be initiated in our country for the first time in the field of submarines, a field that calls for advanced technology," Ankara-based STM said in a statement.

"STM has scored a major success by being awarded the international tender that was initiated for the mid-life upgrade of Agosta 90B-class submarines in the inventory of the Pakistani Naval Forces in a competitive bid.”

The contract, whose value was not disclosed, was signed on Wednesday for a total of three submarine upgrades.

According to Pakistani defense sources speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking with the media, the Turkish company qualified for both the technical and financial bids and was selected as main contractor for the project.

Earlier, STM also performed mid-life upgrades of its own German-made submarines.

The modernization operations will be performed at Karachi’s Pakistan Naval Shipyard. The first submarine will be delivered in 45 months. The other submarines are estimated to be upgraded within two years after delivery of the first, STM noted.

According to a highly placed Pakistani source, enhancing defense cooperation is in both countries' strategic interests. "Both Pakistan and Turkey are endeavoring to further accelerate existing defense collaboration, and signing this contract will strengthen these efforts," the source said.

The source added that the construction of a fleet tanker (Logistic Support Ship) by STM with the Pakistani Navy also boosted confidence for undertaking more naval projects.

Strong ties, sharing technology

Pakistan and Turkey have a strong political relationship, deeply rooted in their common faith and shared history. Both countries are ready to help each other and share technology, the sources added.

"Political and military leadership on both sides is focusing on boosting defense cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan to have [more] indigenous products and to reduce our reliance on foreign sources," the source added.

In recent years, the Pakistani-Turkish defense industrial relationship has continued to deepen, with more bilateral projects undertaken, especially after Turkey successfully modernized Pakistan’s F-16 fighters in 2010-2014.

Newly appointed Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isık visited Pakistan early this month to discuss further cooperation between the two countries.

"Turkey and Pakistan have special relations that go back in history," he said. "To ensure the region's peace and security, Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan should maintain close ties," he added, stressing Ankara's commitment to aiding regional stability.

On June 10, Turkish firm ASELSAN signed a contract with the Pakistani Air Force to integrate its ASELPOD – a high performance electro-optical reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting system designed specifically for fighter aircraft – onto an airborne platform.

Both countries are also in talks over a possible deal on T129 ATAK helicopters developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries. The source said one of the copters was in Pakistan in May for operational trials.

Pakistan is also evaluating international tenders for an assault rifle for use by the Pakistan Army. The MKEK MPT assault rifle, set to replace the Turkish military’s existing stock of foreign-made HK G3 and HK33 assault weapons, is among the international contenders in Pakistan.

The source added that Turkey is evaluating proposals for purchasing training aircraft for the Turkish Air Force, and Pakistan’s Super Mushshak trainer aircraft is a leading contender. A final decision is likely soon.

As for future collaboration, the source said both countries are in discussions over possible cooperation on Turkey's first indigenous FX Fighter Jet program. Once materialized, it will be a flagship project between the two brotherly countries, added the source.

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