China to construct four most advanced naval warships for Pakistan

Islamabad: China has recently began to construct the first of four most advanced naval warships for its “all-weather ally” Pakistan as part of a major arms deal, according to China State Shipbuilding Corp, a large State-owned defense contractor. Reportedly, the deal aims to ensure “balance of power” in the strategic Indian Ocean. The ship is one of the Chinese Navy s most advanced guided missile frigate. In December, it reported that the ship was under construction at its Hudong-Zhonghua shipyard in Shanghai, and it would be equipped with modern detection and weapon systems with capabilities of anti-ship, anti-submarine and air-defense operations. According to the Pakistan Navy, the ship s class is Type 054AP, which implies that it is based on the Type 054A of the People s Liberation Army Navy. Besides, it was said that four such ships had been ordered under the deal. The warship will be one of the largest and technologically advanced platforms of Pakistan s Navy, which will strengthen the state’s capability to respond to threats posed by the neighboring India, and maintain peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region. It will also support the Pakistani Navy s initiative of securing sea lanes for international shipping by patrolling distant waters, it said in a statement on its twitter account. Type 054A is the best frigate in service with the PLA Navy. Military sources said that the ship has a fully-loaded displacement of about 4,000 metric tons, and is equipped with advanced radars and missiles. About 30 Type 054As are in service with the PLA Navy, observers said. PLA’s Naval Military Studies Research Institute’s researcher Cao Weidong has said that, previously, Pakistan had been using western radars on its ships constructed by Chinese shipbuilders as it believed that Western naval technologies were better than Chinese. “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. Cao said there were many nations selling frigates in the market, so Pakistan must have made thorough comparisons in terms of combat capability and costs. “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, expecting the service of the Chinese frigate to substantially boost Pakistan s defense capability. An insider in China’s shipbuilding sector with knowledge of the Type 054AP program told China Daily on condition of anonymity that the ship is the largest and most powerful combat vessel China has ever exported. “Based on pictures circulating on the internet, the ship will have vertical launch cells that can fire Chinese HQ-16 air-defense missiles and other kinds of missiles. Vertical launch cells will bring flexibility to the user in terms of weapons portfolio, thus giving it a stronger fighting capability,” he said, adding that the Type 054AP is the best frigate Pakistan can access in the international market. “The service of Type 054APs will double the combat power of the Pakistani Navy s surface fleet,” he said.