ISLAMABAD, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Commentator Farhan Bokhari says that Pakistan later this year will buy six Yuan-class submarines from China.
Bokhari is a Pakistani political commentator based in the capital Islamabad.
The Yuan-class boats are diesel-electric submarines, and the export version is known as the S20, the China Times News Group reported on Thursday.
The China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Corp. (CSOC) builds the S20. CSOC exhibited the S20 at the Abu Dhabi NAVDEX 2013 international naval equipment exhibition in February 2013 and again a month later at the March 2013 Malaysia LIMA-2013 international aviation and naval equipment exhibition.
Chinese officials said the S-20 was not developed in order to meet domestic needs, but specifically for the international export market. Analysts believed that China's highlighting its Yuan-class S-20s is likely driven by heightened competition from Russian and European diesel-electric submarine builders given potential sales to Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Yuan emerged in 2004 and since then about seven or eight have been launched for the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). In 2010 the U.S. Department of Defense estimated that up to 15 would be built.