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Pakistan commissions last Zulfiquar frigate

April 25, 2013 at 12:06 AM   |   Comments

ISLAMABAD, April 25 (UPI) -- Pakistan's navy commissioned the fourth and last F-22P Zulfiquar class frigate at a ceremony at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works.

Commissioning of the PNS Aslat completes the $750 million technology-transfer contract signed in 2005 between Pakistan's Ministry of Defense Production and China Shipbuilding Trading Co., the defense news website PakSoldiers said.

The first ship, PNS Zulfiquar -- "Sword," in English -- was handed over to the navy in July 2009 and the second vessel, PNS Shamsheer, was commissioned in January 2010.

The PNS Saif was the third frigate -- the last to be built in China at the Hudong Zhonghua shipyard, Shanghai -- and was commissioned in September 2011.

Pakistani Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Mohammad Asif Sandila was a guest at the ceremony attended by officials and dignitaries from Pakistan and China, including the ambassador of People's Republic of China, PakSoldier said.

Sandila said construction of the 2,500-ton, 404-foot Aslat at KSEW and other ships including a fast attack craft, small tankers and utility ships is a result of the government's determination to attain self-reliance in defense capabilities.

The contract with China includes ammunition for the vessels' single 76mm deck-mounted guns and six Harbin Z-9EC anti-submarine helicopters, already delivered to the navy, PakSoldier reported in February 2012.

The Z9EC helicopters -- a licensed version of the French Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin and manufactured by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Corp. -- were purchased from China National Aero Technology Import and Export Corp. and operate from the Zulfiquar frigates.

The vessels carry 200 personnel and have eight C-802/CSS-N-8 subsonic Saccade anti-ship missiles made by China Haiying Electromechanical Technology Academy, the defense news website NavalTechnology said.

They also have 8-round FM-90 surface-to-air missiles, the export version of the HQ-7 missile, which includes infra-red tracking system and built by China National Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp.

Pakistan's navy also took delivery of two 12-ton Bollard Pull Pusher tugs constructed at the KSEW, which handed over the vessels to Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Adm. Muhammad Shafiq last month.

The navy has on order with KSEW a 15,000-ton capacity tanker -- an example of the government's need to develop the country's indigenous defense manufacturing sector, Shafiq said during the handing over ceremony for the tugs.

He said the changing geo-political dynamics means access to foreign defense technology will be denied or hard to come by for Pakistan in the coming year.

KSEW, the only major shipyard in Pakistan, was set up in the 1950s and operates as an autonomous commercial organization within the Ministry of Defense.

Topics: Vice Adm, Usher
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