What's new

Featured Shallow Water Submarines - The case for Pakistan

Bilal Khan 777

PROFESSIONAL
Mar 18, 2015
1,794
61
7,238
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Pakistan
In the 60's, Pakistan Navy ventured in the arena of asymmetric warfare, by ordering Midget submarines and swimmer delivery vehicles from Italy. These are generally known to be limited anti-shipping and mining platforms. Hence was the formation of Pakistan's frogmen branch, setup on the pattern of British SBS, but trained mostly by specialists trained by USN Seal Teams. The subject capability put IN on the defensive, as it's next to impossible to detect, and interdict. There were some successes and failures of the program but overall it served its purpose. IN even tried to acquire the same SDVs but could never operationally deploy them.

In the 90s, Pakistan upgraded the concept by acquiring larger midgets, with even more lethal capability. These "X-Craft" were mainly operated by the Frogmen, hence became the unique force in the world who were both crew and payload. Pakistani midgets or X-Craft gave India a tough time in many standoffs...After the decommissioning of Daphne Subs, the X-Craft were absorbed by the submarine force who operate them till today.

Now that these craft are up for replacement, while being fully operational but having completed their useful life, a great rethink of CONOPS and Doctrine is needed. Does Pakistan still need Midget submarines?

Meanwhile, great work is progressing in conventional submarines, where Pakistan is extending the life of existing platforms, and acquiring new ones. In a few years, Pakistan submarine force shall be 13 units, a formidable force to reckon with.

However, majority of our coast remains to be "Shallow Waters." That means, even conventional submarines cannot operate here, hence traditional submariners love to keep their keel clear of the bottom of all times.

So how do the midgets fit into the fray? The 100 ton craft have their pros and cons. Iran, out of desperation and compulsion, have undertaken both Midget and compact submarine programs. The midgets are derived from a Korean design, which in-turn is a copy of Italians. The compact submarine seems to be a purely indigenous design, and is progressing along. However after building the Ghadir class, Iran realized that they needed something bigger. The compact submarine, Fateh, is noteworthy, as it has almost the range of a conventional submarine, yet it can operate in shallow waters. This allows Iranian Navy to keep its Kilo class submarines in deeper water and on shore/fleet strike roles, and its compact submarine on defence / offense roles. This is a good lesson for all or any countries looking to narrow the shallow water gap.

As Pakistan Navy moves forward, they should think beyond the limited capability of 100-200 ton submarines, and think of a compact submarine platform, that is able to operate in shallow water, but has no limitation to operate in similar environment of a conventional submarine. This platform could be anywhere from 500 to 700 tons, and have suitable operational and technical capability for Spec Ops. If any such platform exists, it could be a superb force multiplier for PN, and fill the gap created by having only conventional platforms (if so in the future), that may be left by X-Craft when they are retired. I remain confident that Pakistan Navy and its leadership will make a wise and thought out decision as they move to narrow the shallow water gap in their underwater operations.
 
Last edited:

Armchair

SENIOR MEMBER
Jun 4, 2014
3,238
8
5,253
Country
Bangladesh
Location
Turkey
Wonderful to have you back @Bilal Khan 777 This is a subject I learned a lot about from you in the past. How many do you think Pakistan needs given present geopolitical circumstances and PN plans in the next 30 years?
 

Bilal Khan 777

PROFESSIONAL
Mar 18, 2015
1,794
61
7,238
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Pakistan
What is the range of such craft? could they traverse shallow waters to enemy docks undetected?
I assume that a 500-700 ton craft would have a range of minimum 2000 NM.

What is the range of such craft? could they traverse shallow waters to enemy docks undetected?

If they are shallow water capable, they should be able to operate in this column, hence penetrate anchorages and harbors or at least have a SDV payload that undertakes the same. Detection in these waters of next to impossible. Look at the case of Cheonan attack. Conventional platforms are useless in shallow water, and against compact submarines.

Wonderful to have you back @Bilal Khan 777 This is a subject I learned a lot about from you in the past. How many do you think Pakistan needs given present geopolitical circumstances and PN plans in the next 30 years?

I am humbled by your praise as i am not worthy, as I learn a lot from you guys here. I believe Pakistan needs anywhere from 6-8 such platforms in the coming years.
 
Last edited:

Armchair

SENIOR MEMBER
Jun 4, 2014
3,238
8
5,253
Country
Bangladesh
Location
Turkey
Here is what I think PN wants to do in the future:

1. Expand its shore defense to 400nm
2. Establish a basic SLOC defense against blockade
3. Nuclear triad

I think a fourth position should be added:
4. Threaten IN Eastern ports

For (4) they could utilize:

A. Strike aircraft (like the J/H-7A and J-15)
B. UUVs (unmanned one-way submarines)
C. Small submarine fleet (400-600 tons)
D. SWAT as Bilal Khan 777 has outlined

B. UUV
Unmanned UUVs (robotic mini submarines). Basically you can't control them much, they are like mad and suicidal attack dogs. You set them loose, give them an area to go to and create a mess. Say, for instance, one putters off from Karachi, no control, but goes underwater, heads near a designated Indian port, if something shows up from an East to North West vector, it gets a bad day.

If nothing shows up, it reaches near the Indian port, lays mines, and shoots torpedoes at any and all boats at the port. Once it is out of ammo, it blows up taking whatever else it can with it.

Imagine the headache that would create for every single Indian port and sea lane on their West coast. It would be a nightmare to face. And at the cost of no Pakistani lives and a small investment.

C Mine Laying small submarine
A 400 - 500 ton mine laying submarine. These were in fact the subs that got the most kills during the War but were the cheapest and smaller submarines. They don't need great loiter time or deep diving capability. This is how the Germans used them - they go off to an Indian port, stay abou 50 meters below the surface, and at a distance, lay mines, return to base.

Reach near a port / sea lane (perhaps at a safe distance from the mad dogs we sent earlier in (B). Lays mines and comes back home. No need for deep diving stalking or staying on station to get a hot kill.

As the mad dogs start doing their work, the mine laying submarine turns around and scoots back home. I'd simply add one more addition other than the German concept - a single ballistic / cruise missile at the back to fire off as the submarine leaves the operational area. Aimed at the general direction of the Indian port, the cruise missile / ballistic missile will lock on to any boat it sees or simply crash into the port.

This would cause the Indians to get upset and set off a knee jerk reaction, speeding up in their frigates and destroyers, exactly to the mine field layed by the mine layer and the UUV. By then the mine laying submarine has already left the area and the IN warships are headed straight to their designated mines...

H. I. Sutton website notes how mine laying submarines bagged the largest number of enemy ships yet are the least known submarines as their work was not particularly "heroic" or "fashionable".
http://www.hisutton.com/German-WW1-Type-UC-1-U-Boat.html

The UC II had the highest number of kills of any platform. Imagine that. These are very simple submarines that don't need long duration on station, as they are not ambushing anything. They simply go to a shipping lane / outside a port and deploy mines, come back.

Doesn't need AIP, doesn't need much but the deadliest ships. What if Pakistan designed a UC II type submarine today? 400 tons, 18 mines, 6 crew, 2 torpedoes for self defense. India's Eastern coast would be in deep trouble.
 

SQ8

INACTIVE
Mar 28, 2009
40,382
508
90,173
Country
United States
Location
United States
I assume that a 500-700 ton craft would have a range of minimum 2000 NM.



If they are shallow water capable, they should be able to operate in this column, hence penetrate anchorages and harbors or at least have a SDV payload that undertakes the same. Detection in these waters of next to impossible. Look at the case of Cheonan attack. Conventional platforms are useless in shallow water, and against compact submarines.



I am humbled by your praise as i am not worthy, as I learn a lot from you guys here. I believe Pakistan needs anywhere from 6-8 such platforms in the coming years.
The SMX-26 concept is the way to go if we have the funds. Those class of subs would wreak havoc with the IN.
 

Armchair

SENIOR MEMBER
Jun 4, 2014
3,238
8
5,253
Country
Bangladesh
Location
Turkey
I think to reach up and touch the Indian Eastern ports, one needs a 400-700 ton submarine. Andrasta is a smaller Scorpene sub - costing nearly as much, mostly defeating the purpose of having a locally made, low cost small submarine.
 

Bilal Khan 777

PROFESSIONAL
Mar 18, 2015
1,794
61
7,238
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Pakistan
The SMX-26 concept is the way to go if we have the funds. Those class of subs would wreak havoc with the IN.

I looked at SMX-26 and I agree, SMX-26 or something in that category is the way to go.

I think to reach up and touch the Indian Eastern ports, one needs a 400-700 ton submarine. Andrasta is a smaller Scorpene sub - costing nearly as much, mostly defeating the purpose of having a locally made, low cost small submarine.

Andrasta is a good design. We would need something similar, such as a SWATS which is a bit of both, or a truly synergistic platform to undertake submarine roles and midget roles in one platform.
 

Falcon26

SENIOR MEMBER
Dec 24, 2015
2,473
3
6,789
Country
United States
Location
United States
In the 60's, Pakistan Navy ventured in the arena of asymmetric warfare, by ordering Midget submarines and swimmer delivery vehicles from Italy. These are generally known to be limited anti-shipping and mining platforms. Hence was the formation of Pakistan's frogmen branch, setup on the pattern of British SBS, but trained mostly by specialists trained by USN Seal Teams. The subject capability put IN on the defensive, as it's next to impossible to detect, and interdict. There were some successes and failures of the program but overall it served its purpose. IN even tried to acquire the same SDVs but could never operationally deploy them.

In the 90s, Pakistan upgraded the concept by acquiring larger midgets, with even more lethal capability. These "X-Craft" were mainly operated by the Frogmen, hence became the unique force in the world who were both crew and payload. Pakistani midgets or X-Craft gave India a tough time in many standoffs...After the decommissioning of Daphne Subs, the X-Craft were absorbed by the submarine force who operate them till today.

Now that these craft are up for replacement, while being fully operational but having completed their useful life, a great rethink of CONOPS and Doctrine is needed. Does Pakistan still need Midget submarines?

Meanwhile, great work is progressing in conventional submarines, where Pakistan is extending the life of existing platforms, and acquiring new ones. In a few years, Pakistan submarine force shall be 13 units, a formidable force to reckon with.

However, majority of our coast remains to be "Shallow Waters." That means, even conventional submarines cannot operate here, hence traditional submariners love to keep their keel clear of the bottom of all times.

So how do the midgets fit into the fray? The 100 ton craft have their pros and cons. Iran, out of desperation and compulsion, have undertaken both Midget and compact submarine programs. The midgets are derived from a Korean design, which in-turn is a copy of Italians. The compact submarine seems to be a purely indigenous design, and is progressing along. However after building the Ghadir class, Iran realized that they needed something bigger. The compact submarine, Fateh, is noteworthy, as it has almost the range of a conventional submarine, yet it can operate in shallow waters. This allows Iranian Navy to keep its Kilo class submarines in deeper water and on shore/fleet strike roles, and its compact submarine on defence / offense roles. This is a good lesson for all or any countries looking to narrow the shallow water gap.

As Pakistan Navy moves forward, they should think beyond the limited capability of 100-200 ton submarines, and think of a compact submarine platform, that is able to operate in shallow water, but has no limitation to operate in similar environment of a conventional submarine. This platform could be anywhere from 500 to 700 tons, and have suitable operational and technical capability for Spec Ops. If any such platform exists, it could be a superb force multiplier for PN, and fill the gap created by having only conventional platforms (if so in the future), and that may be left by X-Craft when they are retired.

Great to have you back! Your insights and analysis have been missed.
 

Akh1112

BANNED
Nov 21, 2019
1,138
7
1,829
Country
Pakistan
Location
United Kingdom
What do you think of the Andrasta class? I had raised this as an example a while back in a previous discussion. Its like a littoral scorpene class, can fit AIP, 6 torps and AShM's. A perfect A2/AD asset.
 

Tipu7

PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST
Aug 8, 2014
5,189
97
13,901
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
Sir, you should discuss about the importance of these vessels in terms of capabilities they provide.
Like, what is meant by this
Pakistani midgets or X-Craft gave India a tough time in many standoffs
and this.
If any such platform exists, it could be a superb force multiplier for PN, and fill the gap created by having only conventional platforms
In simple words, how come a Midget pose major threat to Indian Navy? And how, despite being in shallow waters, they are so hard to detect?
 

Sinnerman108

ELITE MEMBER
Jul 20, 2009
8,698
-3
9,810
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
Shallow waters means easy detection.

Look at the anti submarine capability india has amassed.
These small submarines will be sitting ducks.

In principle, a submarine is the most stealth craft that hides in the depths.

In the 60's, Pakistan Navy ventured in the arena of asymmetric warfare, by ordering Midget submarines and swimmer delivery vehicles from Italy. These are generally known to be limited anti-shipping and mining platforms. Hence was the formation of Pakistan's frogmen branch, setup on the pattern of British SBS, but trained mostly by specialists trained by USN Seal Teams. The subject capability put IN on the defensive, as it's next to impossible to detect, and interdict. There were some successes and failures of the program but overall it served its purpose. IN even tried to acquire the same SDVs but could never operationally deploy them.

In the 90s, Pakistan upgraded the concept by acquiring larger midgets, with even more lethal capability. These "X-Craft" were mainly operated by the Frogmen, hence became the unique force in the world who were both crew and payload. Pakistani midgets or X-Craft gave India a tough time in many standoffs...After the decommissioning of Daphne Subs, the X-Craft were absorbed by the submarine force who operate them till today.

Now that these craft are up for replacement, while being fully operational but having completed their useful life, a great rethink of CONOPS and Doctrine is needed. Does Pakistan still need Midget submarines?

Meanwhile, great work is progressing in conventional submarines, where Pakistan is extending the life of existing platforms, and acquiring new ones. In a few years, Pakistan submarine force shall be 13 units, a formidable force to reckon with.

However, majority of our coast remains to be "Shallow Waters." That means, even conventional submarines cannot operate here, hence traditional submariners love to keep their keel clear of the bottom of all times.

So how do the midgets fit into the fray? The 100 ton craft have their pros and cons. Iran, out of desperation and compulsion, have undertaken both Midget and compact submarine programs. The midgets are derived from a Korean design, which in-turn is a copy of Italians. The compact submarine seems to be a purely indigenous design, and is progressing along. However after building the Ghadir class, Iran realized that they needed something bigger. The compact submarine, Fateh, is noteworthy, as it has almost the range of a conventional submarine, yet it can operate in shallow waters. This allows Iranian Navy to keep its Kilo class submarines in deeper water and on shore/fleet strike roles, and its compact submarine on defence / offense roles. This is a good lesson for all or any countries looking to narrow the shallow water gap.

As Pakistan Navy moves forward, they should think beyond the limited capability of 100-200 ton submarines, and think of a compact submarine platform, that is able to operate in shallow water, but has no limitation to operate in similar environment of a conventional submarine. This platform could be anywhere from 500 to 700 tons, and have suitable operational and technical capability for Spec Ops. If any such platform exists, it could be a superb force multiplier for PN, and fill the gap created by having only conventional platforms (if so in the future), and that may be left by X-Craft when they are retired.
 

PAR 5

FULL MEMBER
Apr 13, 2016
554
921
2,286
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
SHALLOW WATER ATTACK SUBS for up to 700 tonnage project is already under process with NHQ for the last 3 years I also know the participants of it but cannot say more at this time.

انتظار فرمایے
 

PAR 5

FULL MEMBER
Apr 13, 2016
554
921
2,286
Country
Pakistan
Location
Pakistan
The PN is really pushing the needle here in terms of projects.

In a few years PN will emerge as a regional powerhouse of force projection thanks to the vision, consistency and continuity of projects for the last three service chiefs and the literal all wheel drive of CNS Abbasi. It is so exciting to see PN coming out of its cocoon to spread its modern wings. Stay tuned
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Total: 1, Members: 0, Guests: 1)


Top Bottom