Pakistan’s fleet of Made in China advanced frigates would grow to four by 2021.
PKONWEB Report (Islamabad) — China has started building first of the four high performance warships for Pakistan that can carry out all of the air-defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine tasks in the Arabian Sea and its landing into the Indian Ocean.
China State Shipbuilding Corp — one of the largest state-owned defense contractor, is building the warship in the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai, that would be exported to Pakistan under a defense agreement between the two “all-weather friends”.
These ships will replace six Type 21 frigates, acquired from the British in the 1990, and would enhance Pakistan navy’s capability and capacity to defend its littoral seascape as the country hosts the multibillion dollar Pakistan China Economic Corridor.
China Daily quoted Pakistan Navy as saying that the ship’s class is based on People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy’s Type 054A advanced frigate. Pakistan has ordered four such ships, the newspaper said, quoting a statement by the Pakistan Navy.
A researcher at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, Cao Weidong, told the paper the equipment installed on the ships will be Chinese, which “shows China’s progress in the industry and the Pakistani Navy’s confidence in our technology and capability”. Previously, Pakistan would always ask its Chinese contractors to install Western radars and weaponry as it believed that West’s technology was superior to China’s, Weidong said.
“I believe the reason they chose our type is that ours is one of the few that can carry out all of the air-defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine tasks,” he said, adding that he believed that the ships will improve Pakistan’s naval defense.
The warship will be China’s largest and most powerful vessel export, the paper quoted an insider in China’s shipbuilding sector as saying.
“The service of Type 054APs will double the combat power of the Pakistani Navy’s surface fleet,” the source told the newspaper.
The induction of these new vessels would enhance Pakistan Navy’s operational capabilities to meet challenges of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Gwadar Port head on.
The CPEC, part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, has an embedded strategic undertone as well. It is an answer to the United States’ Asia pivot and its growing support for New Delhi, wrote Islamabad-based Think Tank ISSI. “The Indian Ocean will be a crucial battleground for the contest between opposing strategic partnerships, with the US and India on one side and China and Pakistan on the other. Sitting astride the all-important Strait of Hormuz, the port of Gwadar underpins CPEC. All four navies – the United States Navy (USN), Indian Navy (IN), Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) Navy and Pakistan Navy (PN) – will have vital roles to play in the unraveling maritime security environment in the region.”
In June last year, Pakistan Navy had announced that it was purchasing two multirole Type 054A frigates from China for bolstering its war-fighting capability. The navy had said that Pakistan’s fleet of Type054A warships would grow to four by 2021.