Turkey and Pakistan have been close strategic allies for decades however the bonhomie has been on a special display with Ankara often pledging solidarity with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue and offering weapon systems to Pakistan, like the MILGEM-class submarine project that remains under development.
In a recent development, Turkey has followed up on its previous decision of 2019 to equip the Pakistani submarines with its torpedo countermeasure systems.
The Zargana Torpedo Countermeasure System for the Pakistan Navy’s Agosta 90B-class submarines has passed factory acceptance tests, according to Turkish defense manufacturer Aselsan.
The test clears the way for installation aboard the French-built submarine as part of a mid-life upgrade deal agreed in 2016 with the Turkish firm STM for three Agosta submarines in Pakistan.
The modified PNS Hamza has been delivered, according to Naval News. The site also alleged that the modernization of an undisclosed second submarine is complete, citing OSINT reports. The PNS Saad, the third, will be equipped with the Zargana.
Tests and trials of Aselsan’s Zargana anti-torpedo defense system has been successfully completed in #Turkey for the #Pakistan Navy. Turkey’s STM was given a $350 million contract by the Pakistan Navy for the mid-life upgrade of its three Khalid-class AIP attack submarines. pic.twitter.com/YA57KZ9t0E
— AEROSINT Division PSF (@PSFAERO) January 3, 2022
It was in 2019 that a decision for delivering these anti-torpedo systems was announced by Aseslan as part of Pakistani submarines’ mid-life upgrades.
The contract is part of the Pakistan Navy’s Agosta 90B MLU program, which includes the upgrading of three Agosta 90B submarines under a deal signed with the Turkish STM Company in 2016.
The defense manufacturer created the Zargana Anti-Torpedo Countermeasure System for submarines as a variant version of the domestic system for overseas buyers. Pakistan became the second country after Indonesia to employ the Zargana, which many experts call superior to its global competitors.
However, this is not the first time that Turkey is aiding Pakistan in upgrading its naval fleet. The Pakistan Navy inked a contract with ASFAT, a Turkish defense manufacturer, in July 2018 to purchase four MILGEM-class ships.
Under the agreement, it was decided that two corvettes will be built in Turkey, while the remaining two will be built in Pakistan with technology transfer.
In Karachi yesterday, a ceremony was held for the unveiling of the MILGEM Ada Class Corvette
— Samuel Ramani (@SamRamani2) November 6, 2021
Keeping up with that commitment, in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, a keel-laying ceremony took place for the building of a MILGEM (National Ship) Ada class corvette designed for the Pakistan Navy in November last year.
While new submarines will take time to enter service with the Pakistani Navy, the mid-life upgrade of existing vessels with Zargana countermeasures will prove to be a big value addition as far as maritime defense is concerned.
Zargana Countermeasure System
A torpedo countermeasure system like the one that Pakistan is acquiring from Turkey is a system that deflects the attack from enemy torpedos. The ZARGANA Submarine Torpedo Countermeasure System provides quick reaction capabilities, as well as operator-controlled autonomous operation and outboard launchers, to ensure submarine survivability against torpedo strikes.
It has quick reaction capability, customizable launching cell design according to user requirements with up to 24 launching cells, single and salvo launching capabilities, a high level of redundancy and bubble-free launching.
ZOKA acoustic jammers and decoys are used by the ZARGANA System. Acoustic jammer is a high-power, broadband acoustic noise generator that covers all operational frequency ranges of both classical and modern acoustic homing torpedoes in passive, active, and combination homing modes.
Auditory decoys are used as a soft-kill technique to confuse oncoming torpedoes by simulating the submarine’s dynamic and acoustic behaviors. Both of these systems act as countermeasures against adversarial torpedos.
Turkey and Pakistan, the two self-proclaimed stalwarts of the Islamic world have been courting each other for military cooperation and strengthening their overall bilateral relationship.
There are speculations of other weapon systems, like sophisticated missiles and fighter jets that could become another area of cooperation between the two close partners. However, Turkish aid to the Pakistani Navy is significant given that the latter has decided to enhance its presence in the Arabian Sea.