NATIONAL

Launch of Chinese frigate for Pakistan today

Pallavi Aiyar

Beijing: The first of four F-22P frigates ordered by the Pakistani Navy from China under a $600 million deal signed in April 2005, will be launched on Monday from a Shanghai shipyard, according to a report in China Daily.

The report quoted Pakistani Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir, who will attend the launch, as saying the frigates would “form a very important component” of Pakistan’s surface fleet.

China will also assist Pakistan in upgrading the Karachi dockyard and transfer the technology for the indigenous production of a modern surface fleet. Three frigates are to be built in Shanghai, with the fourth to be constructed at the Karachi dockyard, enabling Pakistan to build its own frigates later.

Admiral Tahir described the deal as helping to “enhance Pakistan’s capabilities in shipbuilding and also the Karachi shipyard’s capabilities in managing the construction of a large warship.”

In recent years, China-Pakistani defence cooperation has picked up momentum and China is the country’s main supplier of military equipment. China has signed on to assist Pakistan in a range of strategic projects, including the production and purchase of JF-17 aircraft, and the Al-Khalid tank in addition to the F-22 frigates. The Pakistan Air Force also plans to buy new Chinese-made J-10 fighters in large numbers.

China has moreover given Pakistan technical and financial assistance to build a deep-water port at Gwadar.

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