China is building the first of four ‘most advanced’ naval frigates for Pakistan as part of a major bilateral arms deal to ensure ‘balance of power’ in the Indian ocean, China daily reported on Wednesday.
The vessels, a version of China’s guided missile frigates, are equipped with state of the art sensors and weapons system. The publication quoted defence contractor China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) as saying. The shipbuilder added that the ships would have anti-ship, anti-submarine and anti-air armament.
The ships are of the Type 054AP class, meaning that it is based on the Type 054A of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the report quoted the Pakistani Navy as saying.
The vessels are currently under construction at the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai.
Once constructed, the warship “will be one of the largest and most technologically advanced platforms of the Pakistani Navy and strengthen the country’s capability to respond to future challenges, maintain peace and stability and the balance of power in the Indian Ocean region,” the report said.
The report added that the Type 054A is the best frigate in service with the PLAN. Military sources also said the ship has a fully loaded displacement of about 4,000 metric tonnes and is equipped with advanced radars and missiles. About 30 Type 054As are in service with PLAN.
An insider in China’s shipbuilding sector with knowledge of the Type 054AP programme told the Daily that the ship is the largest and most powerful combat vessel China has ever exported.
“The service of Type 054APs will double the combat power of Pakistan Navy’s surface fleet,” he said.
Commenting on the ship’s construction, Cao Weidong, a senior researcher at the PLA’s Naval Military Studies Research Institute, said in the past, the Pakistani Navy would ask its Chinese contractors to use Western radars or weapons on ships constructed by the Chinese shipbuilders because it believed Western naval technologies were better than Chinese ones.
“But it seems that all weapons and radars on the new ship will be Chinese products, which reflects our progress in the industry and the Pakistani Navy’s confidence in our technology and capability,” he said.
Pakistan and China cooperate closely in defence affairs. The two countries jointly developed the JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, which has become a mainstay of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).