Neighbour’s Envy

China’s naval exports are on the increase

Prasun K. Sengupta

The Pakistan Navy (PN) on June 1 inked a contract with the state-owned China Shipbuilding Trading Company Ltd (CSTC) for procuring two additional 4,000-tonne guided-missile frigates (FFG) to add to the first two it had ordered exactly a year ago. The signing ceremony took place at Pakistan’s ministry of defence production in Rawalpindi in the presence of the PN’s Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations), Rear Admiral Faisal Rasul Lodhi. All four FFGs will be delivered by mid-2021. Designed by the China International Shipbuilding Corp (CISC) Group’s 701 Institute, the FFGs will be built by the Shanghai-based Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding Co.

Signing ceremony for two guided missile frigates (FFGs) for Pakistan Navy

The 4,000-tonne FFG’s design is derived from that of the PLA Navy’s Type 054A FFG. It will have an endurance of 21 days, length of 135 metres, range of 4,000 nautical miles (when cruising at 18 Knots) and a top speed of 26 Knots. It will have 32 vertical-launch systems (VLS) cells containing the LY-80N surface-to-air missiles (SAM), one 76mm HPJ-26 main naval gun, two 30mm HPJ-17 30mm Type 1130 close-in guns, a 24-cell FL-3000N point-defence missile system (PDMS), twin ET-52C triple-tube torpedo  launchers, one mast-mounted SR-2410C S-band active phased-array radar developed by the China Educational Instrument & Equipment Corp (CEIEC), twin six-barrel Type 87 240mm anti-submarine rocket launchers (with 36 rockets), twin Type 726-4 18-tube decoy rocket launchers, and eight inclined launchers housing the Harba anti-ship cruise missile variant of the Babur land-attack cruise missile (which itself is a China-developed clone of the Ukraine-developed Korshun cruise missile). All four FFGs will be optimised for anti-submarine fleet control missions. Each FFG will be powered by four SEMT Pielstick 16 PA6 STC diesel engines.

The SR-2410C radar can track up to 150 targets per rotation. Limitations include air targets over Mach 3 and at ranges of more than 150km. The radar has a fire-control capability to track anti-ship cruise missiles, but only at a maximum range of 60km. It is also capable of tracking moving ground vehicles and surface ships. This radar has already been installed on the Bangladesh Navy’s first two Type 056 guided-missile corvettes — BNS Shongram and BNS Prottasha.

In another development, on April 23 this year, the keel-laying ceremony of the first of two offshore patrol vessels (OPV-1900) being built for the PN was held at DAMEN Shipyard Galati in Romania. Rear Admiral Farrokh Ahmad, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Projects) graced the occasion as chief guest. Pakistan and The Netherlands-based Damen had signed a contract for the construction of the two OPVs in June 2017. Each of the OPVs will have a displacement of around 1,900 tonnes, an overall length of 90 metres, 14.4-metre beamwidth, 50-man crew complement and 23 Knots speed. The vessels will be suited for anti-surface and anti-air operations, maritime security operations, day/night helicopter operations, combat search-and-rescue, surveillance, and intelligence gathering.

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