China delivered the first Type 054A/P frigate to the Pakistan Navy on Monday, the largest and most advanced warship the country has exported, according to the shipbuilder.
The frigate, designed and built by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation, was commissioned in Shanghai on Monday. Named the PNS Tughril, it is the first of four frigates that China is building for the Pakistan Navy under a deal signed in 2017.
It is equipped with a new combat management system developed by the CSSC, advanced sensors and weapons, the shipbuilder said in a statement, adding that it had managed to deliver the warship on time despite difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Its design and construction reflect the tremendous progress of China’s frigate technology,” the shipbuilder said, calling the contract an “important milestone” for the sale of Chinese warships.
The Pakistan Navy tweeted that the new frigate had enormous firepower and surveillance potential, and its construction in China was “testimony of Pak-China all-weather friendship”.
Pakistan’s embassy in Beijing said the new warship was technologically advanced and could take on multiple missions. The embassy said on Twitter that Pakistan was “aligned to protect global sea lines of communication”, or maritime routes, and contribute to strategic stability.
Yin Zhuo, a retired rear admiral from the PLA Navy, told Chinese state-run newspaper People’s Daily Online that the new frigate had a displacement of more than 4,000 tonnes and could carry air defence missiles to intercept air and sea targets.
“This type of frigate is mainly responsible for anti-submarine or command tasks. It can attack surface ships and submarines alone or in coordination with other naval forces, and has strong long-range alert and combat capabilities,” Yin said.
In addition to the Type 054A/P frigates, the Pakistan Navy, as part of efforts to modernise its fleet, also has submarines and drones on order from China, its close strategic ally.
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi told Chinese state tabloid Global Times in February that China was building eight Hangor-class submarines for the Pakistan Navy. There was also a deal for medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicles, he said, without giving further details.
Four Chinese-built frigates were previously delivered to the Pakistan Navy in 2013.