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Pakistan Gets First Type 054A/P Frigate from China

On November 08, the Pakistan Navy (PN) commissioned its first Type-054A/P frigate. Designated as the PNS Tughril, the ship is the first of four frigates on order from China.

Pakistan ordered the Type 054A/P from China Shipbuilding Trading Co. Ltd (CSTC) in two batches in 2017 and 2018. Currently, the second Tughril-class frigate is undergoing sea trials, while the Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group is building the third and fourth ships.

Alongside the Babur-class corvette and Jinnah-class frigate, the Tughril-class frigate is a major piece of the PN’s surface fleet modernization program. Of the three new surface combatants, the Tughril-class would be the largest ship; it has a displacement of 4,000 tons and a length of 134 metres.

Compared to the Type 054A frigates in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), the Tughril-class has a number of key differences in its sensor-suite and armament package.

For example, the Tughril-class frigate is equipped with the SR2410C 3D electronically scanned array radar, which is similar in design and concept to the Thales SMART-S Mk2. In contrast, the PLAN Type 054As are equipped with the Type 382 radar. Likewise, the armament set-up of the Tughril-class draws on a selection of export-oriented versions of the PLAN’s weapons, such as the LY-80N surface-to-air missile (SAM), which is the export variant of the HQ-16, for example.

One noticeable difference change in the Tughril-class frigate is its surface-to-surface missile (SSM) system. It is unclear exactly what this SSM system is, but analysts observed that it could be either the CM-401 anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) or CM-302 supersonic anti-ship cruising missile (ASCM). The PN said that it is working on a hypersonic ASBM under the designation, “P282.” However, the PN did not officially confirm if it would equip the Tughril-class with the P282 ASBM.

However, the Tughril-class is certainly not fitted with a standard subsonic ASCM like the C-802. Thus, the Tughril-class does signal a sea change in the PN’s approach to anti-ship warfare (AShW). Realizing that the task of defending against the Indian Navy’s (IN) supersonic-cruising BrahMos is not currently feasible, the PN opted to emulate the capability with supersonic and hypersonic solutions of its own.

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