Pakistan, which has relied on French defense suppliers, is buying German-made submarines for the first time, but is still technologically behind its nuclear rival India.
Pakistan has formally agreed to buy three Type 214 German submarines under deal worth more than $1 billion (773.7 million euros) that the two countries are expected to sign within the next few months, according to a media report on Wednesday.
The German shipbuilding company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) will construct the diesel-electric submarines in a shipyard in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi, Pakistan's English-language daily The News reported.
"The commercial contract has been finalized up to 95 percent," said Walter Freitag, the chief executive officer of the HDW, the largest conventional submarine maker in the world.
Freitag, who was interviewed by the newspaper during a defense products exhibition called IDEAS 2008 in Karachi, said that once the contract is signed, the first submarine would be delivered to the Pakistan navy in 64 months, with the rest delivered in the following 12 months.
Pakistan has traditionally relied on French submarines for its naval defense. This is first time that Karachi has opted for German boats.
Earlier, the French firm Armaris, a subsidiary of Thales group, had lobbied for the sale of three Marlin type submarines. The company delivered the last one to Pakistan in 2006.
"The Pakistan navy understands submarines and ours are the best," Freitag said. "We use higher grade steel material, which allows greater diving depth. Also, we have fuel cell AIPs and can integrate Harpoons with the Type 214."
The non-nuclear Type 214 is a 65-meter-long boat which can dive more than 25 meters, but it lacks the technology to avoid detection.
Pakistan's quest for new submarines was prompted by its traditional nuclear-armed rival India reaching a 1.5-billion-euro deal in 2005 with a French company for seven Scorpion submarines.