PKONWEB Report (Islamabad) — China has started building for its “all-weather friend” and ally Pakistan four high performance warships that can carry out 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 contractors, is building the warship in the Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai. These state-of-the-art warships would be exported to Pakistan under a defense agreement between the two countries which have embarked on building the multibillion dollar Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) with Balochistan’s newly built deep seawater Gwadar port as its gateway.
According to a senior Pakistani defense expert and analyst who spoke with PKonweb on condition of anonymity, these warships would be fitted with Chinese anti-ship missile, capable of flying at three times the speed of sound. Indian officials consider it could be game-changing in the region, says Indian news outlet NDTV.
CM302, the export version of YJ 12 anti ship cruise missile will be fitted aboard Type 054 AP frigates, the Pakistani expert said. “Pakistan has contracted for supply of 4 of these ships to be delivered by 2023. These ships represent quantum improvement in Pakistan Navy’s ( PN) ability to provide area air Defense through HHQ 16 missiles and long range supersonic anti ship capability through CM 302 missile.”
The development has gotten Indian defense community worried. It could erode a key missile advantage the Indian Navy has enjoyed over the Pakistani Navy since 2005, said NDTV citing some Indian officials.
The CM-302 missile is going to be the primary weapon on board the four new Chinese frigates.
It matches both the supersonic speed and the range of the Indian Navy’s BrahMos anti-ship cruise missiles, which have been deployed on several front-line frigates and destroyers of the Navy, India’s defense personnel told NDTV.
That the ships are likely to come armed with the CM-302 missiles, senior defense officials consider it as a “new threat which represents a new capability.”
India is worried these frigates that will be inducted from 2021–only two to three years from now, and means a lethal new capability for the Pakistan Navy, the report added.
These missiles have speed that makes BrahMos vulnerable–and therefore is being considered an emerging threat by Delhi’s defense and security experts .
According to globalsecurity.org, a leading online resource of emerging military news and developments, these missiles can reach ‘Double Three’ or ‘Double Four,’ namely a range of 300 kilometers at Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) or a range of 400 kilometers at Mach 4.”
India’s Israel supplied Barak 8 Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LRSAM), deployed on its newest Kolkata Class destroyers may not have the ability to intercept a missile of this class.
Whether the Barak 8 system has been test-fired against any supersonic anti-ship missile, let alone a missile that flies faster than Mach 2 is not unclear.
In an article in warontherocks.com, Robert Haddick, an independent contractor at the US Specials Operations Command, has said “the YJ-12 is the most dangerous anti-ship missile China has produced.”
According to Mr Haddick, “the arrival of the YJ-12 is one more indication of how the US Navy is falling further behind in the missile competition against China, exposing flaws in operating concepts that US and allied commanders and policymakers have relied on for years.”
News of the Pakistani acquisition of the YJ-12/CM-302 broke on twitter late last month when the China State Shipbuilding Corporation organized the steel-cutting ceremony for the second of the four Type 054A/P frigates that Pakistan is receiving. A digital image (shown above) emerged which showcased a CM-302 missile mounted on a launcher on a Pakistan Type 054 frigate.
The Pakistani acquisition of the CM-302 missile comes amid reports that India’s BrahMos missile co-developed with Russia can strike targets 400 kilometers away but can travel at three times the speed of sound. The Chinese missile on Pakistani frigates (if true) traveling at four times the speed of sound and coevering same range could thus intercept the BrahMos, clearly giving Pak Navy the edge it needs.
Under the new security paradigm having emerged as Pakistan’s blue economy which many observers estimate is expected to cross $550 billion once CPEC is up and running by 2023, Pak Navy is poised to play pivotal role in the country’s nuclear triad, an expert said.