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Nuclear proliferation update: J-10C fighters, 8 Chinese subs for Pakistan

A Dec. 9 ceremony for the beginning of construction in Pakistan of Chinese submarines capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
FPI / December 19, 2021


By Richard Fisher

China could soon be delivering to Pakistan two new platforms that will be capable of delivering nuclear weapons: an export version of the Type 039B non-nuclear submarine and the J-10C 4+ generation strike fighter.

At Pakistan’s Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works on Dec. 9, officials from the Pakistan Navy and China commemorated the first steel cutting for a Hangor Class submarine, the 5th out of a total of eight from a 2015 deal.

The first four will be built in China, with the first delivered in 2023. The remainder including four built in Pakistan could be delivered by 2028.

The Hangor Class is based on the S20 or S26T, an export version of the Type 039B non-nuclear but air interdependent propulsion (AIP) powered submarine.

It utilizes a Stirling type AIP engine system that enables the submarine to remain submerged for at least 21 days without having to resurface to recharge its batteries, greatly increasing its operational utility.

At a September 2018 arms exhibit in South Africa, China was marketing a version of this submarine called the “Ky lin class,” with a submerged displacement of 3,160 tons, a maximum dive depth of 300 meters (a Pakistani source noting it can dive to 550 meters), an endurance of 8,000 nautical miles or 65 days and a crew of 42.

In addition to the Chinese Yu-6 heavy torpedo with a range of 45 kilometers, the Hangor class will be armed with the 540km range YJ-18B two-stage subsonic/supersonic anti-ship land attack cruise missile.

Pakistani sources also note the Hangor class will be armed with the 450km range, optional nuclear warhead-armed Babur-III cruise missile, designed with Chinese assistance.

As such, the Hangor class could serve as a nuclear “second strike” option, especially against India.

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