By Liu Xuanzun
China delivered two Type 054A/P frigates to Pakistan on Wednesday, indicating that all four warships of this class have been commissioned into the Pakistan Navy.
The program is a mark of the enduring China-Pakistan friendship and the high-level defense cooperation between the two countries. The vessels are expected to serve Pakistan’s seaward defense as well as safeguard regional peace and stability, analysts said.
A joint delivery and commissioning ceremony for the two Type 054A/P frigates was held in the Hudong Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai on Wednesday, the Global Times learned from the Pakistan Navy on the day.
The two newly built Type 054A/P frigates, namely the PNS Tippu Sultan and the PNS Shahjahan, were commissioned into the Pakistan Navy, the Pakistan Navy said in a press release. Chief of the Naval Staff of the Pakistan Navy Admiral M Amjad Khan Niazi, who is on a visit to China, attended the ceremony and boarded the vessels. This means that the four-ship deal announced in 2018 has been fulfilled.
Before the latest delivery of the two Type 054A/P frigates, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Li Shangfu met with Niazi in Beijing on Monday, when the two agreed to enhance naval cooperation.
The first ship of this class, the PNS Tughril, was inducted into the Pakistan Navy in December 2021, and the second ship, the PNS Taimur, was inducted in June 2022 Niazi told the Global Times in an exclusive interview earlier this year that the acquisition of the Type 054A/Ps is a symbol of enduring friendship and historical affinity between the two countries.
The Type 054A/P is one of the latest multi-role frigates of Chinese origin, equipped with the state-of-the-art weapons and sensors that include CM-302 surface-to-surface missiles and LY-80 surface-to-air missiles as well as an Advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare suite and Combat Management System, enabling ships of this class to operate under multi-threat scenarios, Niazi said.
The Type 054A/Ps are being integrated into Pakistan Navy operations, and will be a mainstay of the Pakistan Navy Fleet in the coming years, ensuring the seaward defense and protection of Pakistan’s vital sea lines of communication, said the Pakistani naval chief.
As a maritime nation, Pakistan has substantial stakes in keeping its seas safe and secure, including the operationalization of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the global energy highway, experts told the Global Times at the AMAN-23 multinational maritime exercise held in Karachi, Pakistan in February.
Pakistan’s geographical location is very important, and the commissioning of the four Type 054A/Ps can help safeguard international maritime sea lanes, Chinese military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping told the Global Times on Wednesday.
It also means that the Pakistan Navy’s main combat vessels are now superior to their main competitors in terms of comprehensive combat capabilities, Song said.