On 01 June, Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) signed a contract with China Shipbuilding Trading Co. Ltd. (CSTC) for two Type 054A frigates for the Pakistan Navy (PN). However, according to the MoDP and the PN (as reported by the state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan: APP), this order is a follow-on to an earlier order, also for two Type 054As. The PN is to receive four Type 054As by 2021.
News of Pakistan procuring the Type 054A began in October 2017 through statements from the previous Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah. In his retirement speech, Zakaullah announced that the Pakistan Navy concluded a deal for new Chinese frigates.
In December 2017, the commanding officer of the F-22P frigate PNS Saif – i.e. Capt. Shahzad Iqbal – had told Shanghai TV that the PN would procure the Type 054A. Shortly after, Defense News confirmed from a Pakistan Navy official that a single Type 054A with an option for two more.
According to Defense News, Pakistan’s forthcoming Type 054As will be configured with the same weapons and subsystems as their People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) counterparts. Notable subsystems in the PLAN Type 054A include the Type 366 over the horizon (OTH) radar and Type-382 3D air search radar.
However, if the PN’s frigates are configured differently, then CSIC has at least two export variants. First, a version centered on a four-panel active phased-array radar (APAR). Second, a variant using APAR coupled with an OTH radar, likely the China Educational Instrument and Equipment Corp (CEIEC) SLR-66.
The Impact of Pakistan’s Harba Dual AShM/LACM
An analysis of how the Harba dual anti-ship missile (AShM) and land-attack cruise missile (LACM) enables Pakistan to pursue a ‘distributed lethality’ approach to anti-access and area-denial. Available to Quwa Premium Subscribers.
In terms of munitions, the Type 054A would provide the PN with its first platform equipped with vertical-launch system (VLS) cells for surface-to-air missiles (SAM). Today, the PLAN deploys the HHQ-16 medium-range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) from the Type 054A’s VLS. The HHQ-16 has a range of 40 km.
The Type 054A is also armed with a dual-quad-cell (2×4) anti-ship missiles (AShM), dual-triple (2×3) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) torpedoes, one 76-mm main gun and Type 1130 close-in-weapons-system (CIWS). The aft helicopter hangar and deck can support a medium-weight ASW helicopter, notably the Harbin Z-9EC. CSIC’s export versions offer the FL-3000N point defence missile system (PDMS) instead.
The Type 054A – i.e. Jiangkai II – displaces at 4,000 tons. It was designed as a multi-mission platform that can undertake anti-ship warfare (AShW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-air warfare (AAW) roles. The PN expects its forthcoming frigates to “substantially enhance [its] war fighting capabilities, while [also] effectively contributing towards Maritime Security Operations in the region.”
This is the PN’s second big-ticket acquisition from China in recent years. In 2015, Pakistan inked a contract with China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) for eight air-independent propulsion (AIP)-equipped submarines (SSP). The PN is slated to have all eight of these SSPs by 2028.
The exact model of Pakistan’s AIP submarine is not known, though it has been speculated to be the S26 – i.e. the AIP-equipped version of the double-hulled S20. Thailand agreed to purchase three S26Ts for $1.02 billion US. Based on that price, a Pakistani S26 deal would be valued at least $2.7 billion US. In 2015, Gabe Collins (via The Diplomat) estimated the Type 054A to roughly cost $348 million US per ship. Based on these estimates, Pakistan’s current naval acquisitions from China would amount to at least $4 billion US.
The most significant outcome of these acquisitions will arguably be the provision of capable sub-surface and surface-based platforms for launching long-range cruise missiles, notably the Harba dual-AShM and land-attack cruise missile (LACM) and the Babur submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM).
In terms of the Harba AShM/LACM, the Type 054A’s Type 366 (or SLR-66) OTH radar will provide the PN the ability to detect and track surface targets such as ships at long-range (280 km). It would follow that the Harba will be fitted to the Type 054A, but the PN may use the Type 054A to provide off-board target detection and tracking to other Harba-equipped ships, such as the Azmat-class fast attack craft (FAC)…
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 “Pakistan Signs Contract To Acquire Two Chinese Naval Warships”. Associated Press of Pakistan. 01 June 2018. URL: http://www.app.com.pk/pakistan-signs-contract-acquire-two-chinese-naval-warships/ (Last Accessed: 02 June 2018).
 Usman Ansari. “Pakistan shops for warships to replace British frigates, modernize Navy.” Defense News. 27 December 2017. URL: https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2017/12/27/pakistan-shops-for-warships-to-replace-british-frigates-modernize-navy/ (Last Accessed: 02 June 2018).
 Gabe Collins. “How Much Do China’s Warships Actually Cost?” The Diplomat. 18 June 2015. URL: https://thediplomat.com/2015/06/how-much-do-chinas-warships-actually-cost/ (Last Accessed: 02 June 2018).