The first of the three Agosta 90B submarines ordered by the government from France on 21 September is due to be delivered fully assembled in 1998, according to French defence sources. The remaining two will be delivered in knocked-down form for assembly at the Karachi dockyard. The last delivery is scheduled for 2001.

The renovation and upgrading of the Karachi dockyard is expected to account for some FF 1,000 million ($190 million) of the overall contract value of FF 5,500 million ($1045 million). About FF 500 million ($95 million) is for work on the dockyard itself and a further FF 500 million for the supply of machine tools.

According to French press reports, the overall contract price does not include the FF 500 million cost of equipping the submarines with the submarine version of the Exocet missile, the SM 39. One report claimed that France had only agreed to supply the SM 39, a particularly destructive missile manufactured by the missiles division of aircraft manufacturer Aerospatiale, in the light of US sales of a similar weapon, the Sub-Harpoon.

The Defence Ministry in Paris specified that the submarines will be equipped with four torpedo launchers and will have capacity to carry 16 heavy torpedoes. They will be fitted, for the first time in an export contract, with the MESMA air independent-propulsion system, which will multiply by a factor of three to four the time they will be able to stay submerged.

Defence sources added that the authorities in Islamabad had expressed renewed interest in acquiring 40 Mirage 2000-5 aircraft from Dassault Aviation. Although the French Finance Ministry is expected to be reticent about providing fresh export credit guarantee cover for such a big contract, the subject is expected to be discussed during the forthcoming visit to France by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.