November 10, 2021
China delivered its largest, most advanced warship ever exported to Pakistan on Monday, assisting the South Asian nation in striking a “balance” in the Indian Ocean region.
The type 054A/P, christened PNS Tughril by Pakistan, is the first of the four frigates to be delivered to the country and comes with a “state-of-the-art combat management and an electronic warfare system along with modern self-defense capabilities,” Global Times reported.
Pakistan signed a contract with the manufacturer, China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited, in 2017 to buy two 054A type ships, increasing the number to four a year later. All were contracted for delivery by 2021, Naval Technology wrote, adding that China had offered the ships to Thailand in 2013, but the country chose the South Korean modified Gwanggaeto the Great-class destroyers instead.
The PNS Tughril integrates “enormous surface-to-surface, surface-to-air and underwater firepower, besides extensive surveillance potentials,” enabling it to simultaneously execute a range of naval warfare missions “in a highly intense multi-threat environment,” the Pakistan Navy stated.
According to Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) Naval Research Academy, the 054A is China’s most advanced frigate.
Global Times added that it is equipped with a better radar system compared to its predecessors and includes more missiles with a longer range. The People’s Liberation Army Navy currently operates 31 of these warships, the first of which was inducted in 2008, and around 20 more are likely to be inducted in the future.
The 4,053-ton, 134m (440ft) ship’s hull design features “sloped sides and reduced superstructure” for reduced radar cross-section.
The ship can accommodate a crew of around 165 people and has a top speed of 27 knots (31 mph/50 kph) with a maximum range of 8,025 nautical miles (9,235 miles/14,862 km).
Pakistan Navy’s ‘Mainstay’
The head of the Pakistan Navy Mission overseeing construction of the frigate, Commodore Rashid Mehmood Sheikh, revealed that the warship will become the navy’s “mainstay,” bolstering the service’s maritime defense capabilities.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque, called the delivery a “new chapter” in the already strong bilateral relations between the two countries, particularly praising developers for their timely delivery despite the COVID-19 pandemic.