The Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) laid the keel of the Pakistan Navy’s fourth new missile-equipped fast attack craft – FAC(M) – on Thursday, March 30.
As per KSEW, the fourth FAC(M) is a “state of the art, multi mission vessel with steel hull and aluminum super structure and equipped with indigenously developed weapons and sensors.”
KSEW cut the FAC(M)’s steel in January.
Defense News reported that FAC(M)-4 was a “development of the Azmat-class.” Its upgrades and design improvements were undertaken by Pakistan’s Maritime Technologies Complex (MTC). These include “new weaponry, sensors and materials … an indigenous combat management system, anti-ship missiles and possibly air-defense missiles.”
The 560-ton Azmat FAC has a length of 63 metres and is capable of a top speed of 30 knots. At 18 knots, it can reach a ferry range of 1,000 nautical miles. Pakistan has two Azmat FACs in service – PNS Azmat and PNS Deshat – and launched its third for sea trials in September 2016.
Notes & Comments:
Illustrations of FAC(M)-4 show several key changes, most notably the inclusion of two triple missile cells instead of the dual-quad C-802 anti-ship missile (AShM) launchers found on the Azmat-class FAC. This change indicates that FAC(M)-4 will carry a larger missile (than the C-802 AShM).
It should be noted that NESCOM officials were present at the FAC(M)-4’s steel-cutting ceremony, which took place in January of this year. In addition, the Ministry of Defence Production listed the development of an indigenously developed shipborne system for a land-attack cruise missile (LACM) and AShM.
It is possible that the FAC(M)-4 could be equipped with a dual-AShM/LACM variant of the Babur. In fact, Pakistan had test-fired the Babur-2 LACM in December 2016. Inter Services Public Relations, the Pakistan military’s media relations wing, claimed that the Babur-2 had a range of 700 and was capable of striking targets on land and at sea. An alternative could be the C-602, which some analysts speculate Pakistan uses as a coastal AShM under the “Zarb” designation.