SHANGHAI (China) In a bid to counter India’s military might in the region, China has launched the first of four “most advanced” warships it is building for close ally Pakistan.
A launch ceremony for the Type-054A/P frigate was conducted by the Chinese state-owned HudongZhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai on Sunday, Voice of America reported quoting the Pakistan Navy. China’s help to launch the Type-054 class frigate for Pakistan is a clear indication that both countries are strengthening their military might to counter India.
In a statement, the Pakistan Navy said the vessels are state-of-the-art frigates equipped with modern surface, subsurface and anti-air weapons and sensors. “These ships will significantly contribute to maintaining peace and security in our area of responsibility,” it added.
However, the statement did not disclose the cost of the military vessels, but the estimates are reported to be over USD350 million each.
China is expected to deliver all the four warships to Pakistan by 2021 with the Chinese media saying it could “double the combat power” of the Pakistan Navy fleet, according to Voice of America.
“Once constructed, the ships will be one of the largest and technologically advanced surface platforms of the Pakistan Navy fleet, boosting its capability to respond to future challenges,” the Navy stated.
The development comes at a time when China has been locked in a standoff with India for the past few months and relations between Pakistan and India continue to be strained after New Delhi’s decision to abrogate Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir last year, which granted special status to the erstwhile state.
For the record, in 2018, the Pakistani Defense Ministry signed with the Chinese foreign trade association China Shipbuilding Trading Company Ltd. a contract for the construction of two more frigates of the Chinese project 054A for the Pakistani fleet. The cost of the contract was not disclosed. Thus, in total, the Pakistani Navy has ordered four frigates of the 054A project to date, which should be commissioned by the end of 2021.
The Type 054A is a multi-role frigate and is recognized as the backbone of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet of surface combatants with 30 vessels in commission. They have a length of 134 meters, a beam of 16 meters for a displacement of 4,000 tons. They have a crew complement of 165 sailors.
The Type 054A is armed with HQ-16 medium-range surface-air missiles fired from 32-cell Vertical Launch System (VLS) developed by Luoyang Electro-Optics Technology Development Centre (EOTDC). The HQ-16 missile can engage aerial targets from all angles up to a range of 50km. The VLS is also expected to launch an anti-submarine missile.
The primary Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) system of the Type 054A is the YJ-83 (C-803) sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missile. The missile is launched by two quadruple launchers mounted at the mid-ship position. The YJ-83 missile can carry a 165kg conventional warhead to an operational range of 250km.
Once constructed, these ships will be the most technologically advanced platforms of Pakistan Navy which will strengthen its capability to meet future challenges and maintain peace, stability & power equilibrium in the Indian Ocean Region.
It may be recalled that just last week, The Nation, London, published a lead story that Turkey is building four fighter ships for Pakistan and the first ship be docked at Karachi by the end of next year. (ANI)